10/01/2011 Spindles Farm Update: Three Years on, The Horse Trust Celebrates the Progress Made by the Rescued Equines

The Horse Trust is today celebrating the progress made by the horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from Spindles Farm three years ago.

Of the more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from Spindles Farm between 4 and 9 January 2008, the 14 considered most "at risk" were taken to The Horse Trust in Speen, Buckinghamshire. This group were too weak to travel further and required extensive veterinary treatment.

Shirley Abbott, Yard Manager at The Horse Trust, said that three years on she still clearly remembers the horror of the rescue and is delighted with the progress the horses have made.

"I'll never forget that Friday evening when the first horses arrived," said Shirley. "I've never seen anything so horrendous in my life - the horses that arrived literally fell down the ramp. I burst into tears when I saw that. It's very rewarding to see them now compared with how they were."

All the animals taken in by The Horse Trust were underweight and had numerous health problems, including Strangles, salmonella and parasite infections. The charity has spent the last few years nurturing the animals back to health and most are now in good health.

One horse that has made a remarkable recovery is Angel, a blind mare who was severely underweight when she arrived at The Horse Trust and was reluctant to walk anywhere due to her sight loss.

Under the charity's care, Angel's weight has more than doubled and she is now confident walking around the fields at the sanctuary.

"When Angel arrived, she used to crash into fences and would fall over uneven ground. She can cope in any of our fields now and has been very clever at learning where the field boundaries are - I haven't seen her walk into a fence for a couple of years," said Ali Johnson, Angel's groom at The Horse Trust.

Angel's progress is partly thanks to the friendship she has developed with one-eyed horse Tarna. The two horses are now inseparable with Tarna guiding Angel to food, defending her from other horses and acting as a physical shield from obstacles.

"Tarna and Angel were moved into the same field in the summer of 2008 and they have been friends since. Tarna leads Angel to the haylage and defends Angel from the other mares. The fact that one eye is supporting both horses is amazing," said Ali. "Tarna and Angel are now inseparable and I wouldn't dream of bringing them in separately from the fields unless its only for a few minutes. If Tarna is left behind she stands and screams until Angel comes back."

Other animals that have made a good recovery include jenny donkey Gladys, who was unable to stand unaided for 10 days after she arrived from Spindles Farm due to starvation. A few of the younger Spindles Farm horses have made such a good recovery that they can be rehomed. Geldings Disney and Dazzle have been found new homes, but Star and Walt are still waiting for someone to offer them a home.

Sadly, not all the horses rescued from Spindles Farm were able to recover. Despite receiving intensive veterinary treatment for a year after arriving from Spindles Farm, colt Bill died in January 2009. His death, caused by parasite damage to his intestine, was a legacy of the neglect he suffered at Spindles Farm.

Some of the young horses from Spindles Farm still need veterinary treatment  so cannot be rehomed, unless their condition improves such as Duke who underwent sarcoid treatment at the University of Liverpool in summer 2010 and has since suffered from severe colic. Gelding Ben has had problems with intermittent lameness for which he is receiving treatment and it is uncertain whether he can ever be rehomed.