We need your support

Here at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, the coronavirus crisis came at the worst possible time, with over 200 resident horses and ponies still requiring expert care at our farms at the end of a very long, wet winter.

At the moment, we have only small teams of grooms going in each day to give this expert care, as we are doing our utmost to protect the NHS, and the health of our staff and their families, by asking them to do split shifts so they don’t come into contact with each other.

Our carer support team is working from home and continues to liaise constantly with the carers of over 470 horses in loan homes, but they cannot travel to make support visits. Many of our loan carers are worried about their own circumstances. Some are already returning horses and ponies to our sanctuary yards, which is putting an additional strain on our teams and resources.

We are a strong team, but the future is uncertain, and we need help from our loyal supporters at this worrying time.

Last year we rescued more horses than ever, in more complex circumstances. Among these were 11 foals, including Icon who arrived with his mother following a large multi-agency welfare rescue. These foals have done well and along with 20 other horses and ponies are ready for rehoming, but we have had to pause this crucial part of our work.

We don’t have extensive reserves and horses are costly animals to care for, especially ours which require specialist handling and retraining or ongoing veterinary medicines and care.

That’s why we’re asking for your help to support the Sanctuary at this difficult time.

So please, if you can afford to, make a donation towards the care of our rescued horses and ponies.

A donation via our JustGiving page is the quickest and easiest way to receive donations at the moment.

You can also call our supporter services team on 01626 882660 between 9am-1pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to donate over the phone.  


A Sanctuary for Life

Icon, Tinkerman and Ava



On arrival at the Sanctuary it was clear that Icon’s mum had serious health issues. After a couple of months of extra love and care we made the difficult decision to put her to sleep. We were worried about how Icon would cope, but thankfully later that day he took an interest in the two other foals we had placed in the field next door – River and Tinkerman. As soon as they were introduced they began galloping around the field chasing each other playfully. They have been best friends ever since.


Tinkerman was kept in unsuitable conditions prior to his arrival at the Sanctuary. He had endured a serious wound to his left foreleg just below his armpit. It was this that led to the owner recognising they could no longer cope. Luckily, we had the time and space to take Tinkerman and his two friends in. Once safely in our care the three cobs began their rehabilitation with the kindness and knowledge of our caring staff.
PIC: MARK PASSMORE/APEX 01/08/2019  staff at the mare & foal sanctuary in Newton Abbot, devon are working around the clock to save the life of orphaned foal Ava who was rescued from Dartmoor near the village of Lee Moor after the death of her mother.  Ava is hand fed every two hours and has had chest x-rayas well as suffering a bout of mild colic.  Head of Equine Sally Burton said: “We are doing everything we can to keep Ava comfortable. Losing her mother at such a young age would have caused her to deteriorate both physically and mentally.
“At just a few weeks old foals are reliant on their mother’s milk. So, we are feeding her every two hours around the clock. We’re all glad she was found and rescued. Now she just needs time and a lot of care.”
Because of Ava’s young age and fragile health, she is getting 24-hour care with our grooms taking it in turns to stay overnight and monitor CCTV cameras – and doing everything they can to comfort her.
But even now, when every instinct is to hold and bottle feed her, boundaries have to be set to make sure she has a chance of finding a loving home in the future.
Quarantine Manager Nicola Weall said: “She is being bottle fed as we don’t hand rear. The bottles are attached to a feeder so she can help herself. It’s important she doesn’t associate us with her milk.
“We also set boundaries while handling her. We don’t want her to think it’s ok to try to climb all over us. Being overly affectionate to a foal can cause behavioural issues. When they get a lot bigger it can, in fact, prove dangerous.”  Ava is still undergoing tests, but with antibiotics and nutrient rich formula it is hoped she will soon turn a corner.
Nicola added: “When she first arrived, she was very nervous. She hadn’t had much to do with humans and she kept turning her back towards and didn’t like being handled.
“But now she’s enjoying the occasional good scratch. She’s also nibbling hay and grass and getting used to her


Ava was just a few weeks old when she was orphaned. She was spotted alone on the moors and we were called to rescue her. She was dangerously underweight and had been without milk for days. Our team worked tirelessly to make sure Ava had everything she needed, including a teddy bear for company. Our vets closely monitored her condition, but we honestly didn’t know if she would pull through. The good news is she is now a healthy weight and loves being out in the field running around with her friends.