Meet Sanctuary at Home Carers

Hear from some of our wonderful Sanctuary at Home Carers who describe the difference rehoming a rescued equine has made to their lives.

“These two ponies give me a reason to get up in the morning”

Evelyn Sharman and her husband care for Ringo and Hovis

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“When the Sanctuary’s Upcott Park opened near Holsworthy a few years ago, I was asked if I would like to become a volunteer. I felt that I had my hands full with work and looking after my beloved thoroughbred horse, Brian, and his companion pony, Jack. Little did I anticipate how my life was going to change last autumn when dear Brian aged 28 and Jack aged 25 both became very ill in different ways. The vet’s advice was to put them both to sleep at the same time.

“I realised that this was the kindest thing to do for them but it was a devastating blow for me and my partner, Martin.

“It was a very traumatic time in our lives. I wouldn’t have been able to bear looking out of the window at an empty paddock so we made enquiries for a couple of loan ponies. Initially I was reluctant to consider this as an option because I wasn’t sure that it was a sensible thing to do at my age. However, I was reassured that The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s policy is to provide a home for life so if my circumstances change, they will take them back into their care. They couldn’t have done any more to make the rehoming process as stress free as possible.

“I consider myself quite knowledgeable having had horses and ponies since I was about ten years old. However, I don’t think I had quite contemplated the difference between having an elderly riding horse and a couple of young ponies that had been running wild on Bodmin up until a couple of years ago. Thanks to the wonderful care that they had received at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, they have had a good grounding when it comes to being led, groomed, shod, etc. The major difference is that these two are not for riding, so we spend lots of time with them providing different challenges to make them think. We do games bending in and out of cones, stepping on a platform, walking over tarpaulin, going through tunnels and in the hot weather we stepped in and out of a paddling pool.

“These two ponies give me a reason to get up in the morning. They have given me a purpose during lockdown. They have helped me tremendously with my physical and mental wellbeing. My days revolve around Ringo and Hovis. I am naturally fit purely from the to-ing and fro-ing in giving them their breakfast, leading them out to the paddock, filling up hay nets, moving bales of hay, etc.

“I don’t think that I had actually considered that I was helping The Mare and Foal Sanctuary by taking on Ringo and Hovis. I now realise that this is very much a three-way thing. Martin and I are very happy. Ringo and Hovis are very content and we have enabled the Sanctuary space to take on two more ponies into their excellent care. I cannot thank you enough and I am reassured that if I need any advice, you are readily available on the end of the phone.”

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“The Sanctuary did a wonderful job of matching us with Fenton”

Jane Barlow and her daughter Mia care for Fenton

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“I work part time as a lecturer of Architecture at Bath University, which is quite a commute but thankfully our horses live at home with us on our farm. I also manage holiday cottages on the farm too.”

Jayne’s 10 year old daughter, Mia, has developed a strong bond with Fenton.

“Mia is fascinated by Emma Massingale and loves natural horsemanship, so we decided to rehome a rescued pony and start her team. She saved up to buy Fenton a headcollar and everything he needed herself. On the day Fenton arrived at home, Mia stayed with him until bedtime. She set up an area with rubber matting and carpet so he could roll comfortably.”

“With my supervision, Mia is Fenton’s primary care giver and to be quite honest, his favourite person. Fenton would follow Mia everywhere if he could. They have formed such a very special bond.”

“Mia is devoted to Fenton. I don’t ever have to remind her to do anything for him, she loves him and wants to look after him. I feel thankful that she has Fenton, especially at an age where technology could take over. Even though Fenton is a non ridden pony, Mia gets just as much enjoyment, if not more, from spending time with Fenton as she does her ridden pony, Bibi.”

Jayne and Mia rehomed Fenton earlier this year during the pandemic, so some of the rehoming process was completed through video call and photographs.

“The Sanctuary did a wonderful job of matching us with Fenton. If I’m honest, we wouldn’t have chosen Fenton based on aesthetics as he is a little quirky and his photos didn’t do him justice. As it happens, Fenton is the perfect addition to our family. It’s a great system because Fenton was matched with our family based on his temperament and we were not able to be distracted by appearances.”

Jayne is passionate about keeping her animals in a natural environment and this is reflected in the way she cares for her horses as well as her livestock.

“I keep the ponies barefoot, on a track system and within a natural herd environment.”

“I especially love that the ponies mirror our behaviour, so if we’re calm or stressed they radiate this back at you through their behaviour. It really makes you stop, think and clear your mind before you spend time with them.

“Mia and I have a rule that we never argue around the horses, so they even help us diffuse a disagreement. Spending time with the ponies reminds us how we should behave.

“Rehoming from The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has been fantastic. We were delighted to help the charity and actually it works both ways, Fenton helps us too.

“Fenton is the rock of our little herd. Our whole family adores him and he’s always the favourite with visitors at our holiday cottages. Even Martii the chicken loves Fenton and can often be found perched on his back.”