A sanctuary for life for 15 young horses from the Whispering Willows sanctuary

Horses on arrival after being rescued

A sanctuary for life for 15 young horses from the Whispering Willows sanctuary

The 15 cobs we took in from the Whispering Willows horse sanctuary were between three to six months old at the time. It was clear to us they’d been separated from their dams too soon and all were in need of emergency veterinary care.

Their rescue was the result of a multi-agency rescue led by the RSPCA and involved a total of 137 horses being removed from Whispering Willows horse sanctuary in November 2019. 18 months later, in February 2021, the owner of the horse sanctuary, Sandra Stolp, pleaded guilty to four Animal Welfare Act offences relating to 22 horses at Swansea Magistrates’ Court.

On arrival the young cobs were found to be underweight, malnourished and suffering with severe parasite burdens. Further veterinary tests showed many of them had significant liver damage and growth development issues, likely to have been caused by the absence of suitable forage, lack of nutrition and early separation from their dams.

Following their isolation period at our veterinary and welfare centre, the ponies were able to move to our rehabilitation sanctuary, Honeysuckle Farm. Here the ponies were reunited as a herd and were able to remain together both in the field and in the barn.  Our crew barn facilities help our horses and ponies live together in natural herd environments, helping to reduce stress and promote natural herd behaviours, which is vital for their physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

Our dedicated grooms, who are specialists at managing the care of semi-feral and unhandled equines, particularly mares in foal, orphaned foals and youngstock, created unique care plans for each cob. They were given plenty of time to graze, grow and put on condition in the safety of our peaceful sanctuary.

Our Head of Sanctuary Care, Sally Burton, said: “It requires a lot of hard work to rehabilitate a young pony in very poor condition, let alone 15, and our teams did an outstanding job of providing life changing loving care to these foals. It’s fortunate that we were able to step in and secure the future of these youngsters when their future was so bleak. It’s encouraging to see them looking so well now and we hope they will each find a loving home through our Sanctuary at Home scheme soon.”

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