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Redwings logoRedwings Annual Review 2011


The wider economic context made 2011 a challenging year for Redwings. Horse neglect and abandonment have increased demand for our services, while many of our donors feel unable to be as generous in their support as they have been in the past.

The investments we have made in land over recent years have proved to be wise, reducing the need for rented facilities. But more than anything, our passion for equine welfare has helped us to ride out the storm. We have continued to rescue and bring in horses despite being full, providing expert veterinary treatment, rehabilitation and, in many cases, permanent care.

Rescues we were involved in during 2011: 161
Our purpose: to provide and promote the welfare, care and protection of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules

As we are funded entirely by public donations, we depend on the generosity of our supporters to help us provide a better quality of life for our horses.

This website contains highlights from our Annual Review. If you would like more information about our activities, you can download any section of the Review as a PDF.

We would like to thank all our friends and supporters, on behalf of all the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules we have helped in 2011.


In 2011 we worked all over the UK to rescue horses, support smaller charities, and educate people on how to prevent horses suffering.

Numbers alongside counties/areas show how many rescues took place.


With the worsening animal welfare situation in the UK, the number of abandoned horses being reported to us has tripled over the last three years. In 2011 alone, our Welfare team brought 170 new arrivals into the care of the Sanctuary.

Although we would love to be able to help every horse or pony in need in the UK, we have to take each case on its own merits. We prioritise cases of neglect or cruelty – especially those cases where no other organisation would be able to help.

New arrivals to the Sanctuary in 2011: 170
Proportion under three years old: 49% (these animals could easily live for another 20 years)
Proportion of colts or stallions: 25% (need to be kept separate; will require additional care and eventually castration)

In 2011, our rescues included:

  • 17 horses and ponies that had been abandoned on Bodmin Moor
  • 23 horses and ponies from a single farm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Tilly, a tiny Shetland that had been abandoned at the side of the road and then hit by a car
  • Amigo, who had been left to fend for himself on an old colliery site.

To find out more about these cases and others, create your own PDF of the Annual Review or visit the Rescue section on our main site.



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Our Rehabilitation team, based at a specialist yard in Norfolk, works with some of our most traumatised residents, using techniques developed over many years of working with nervous, unhandled, or aggressive horses. We believe that there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ horse – undesirable behaviours result from how they have been trained or treated.

Our rehabilitation yard is set up to cause as little stress as possible to the horses in our care. For example, we use round pens to provide a safe area where we can work with the horses without them being able to trap themselves – or a member of the team – in a corner.

Permanent residents at our Rehabilitation Centre: 43 (these equines have been rehabilitated, but would not cope with life in a larger herd, so will remain under special care for the rest of their days)

Our team works with horses for a short period every day, responding to their body language and gradually earning their trust. The methods used depend on individual cases – these can vary widely, from a gentle deaf pony to four challenging young cobs!

Create your own PDF of the Annual Review to read about:

  • Aladdin, Ali Baba, Rumpel and Stiltskin – four cobs who were rescued from horrific conditions at Spindle Farm
  • Sammy, a deaf pony who has learned to understand sign language
  • Shaun, a tiny pony with a big attitude, now successfully re-homed.

For more information about the Rehabilitation team’s work, please visit the Rehabilitation section on our main site.



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We have nearly 500 horses and ponies living in guardian homes across East Anglia. Some compete at a high level in the show ring or in competition, but most are simply beloved family members.

Every horse is visited twice a year by our local Welfare Advisers. Re-homing is intended to be permanent, but we will always bring a horse back to the Sanctuary if there are any doubts about its care or welfare.

Horses and ponies re-homed in 2011: 109
Moved between homes: 26
Re-homed as ridden horses: 32
Re-homed as companions: 51

Create your own PDF of the Annual Review to read about:

  • Pongo, who was rescued from common land with a horrific tethering wound. Less than three years later, he is now competing as a show cob!
  • Vincent, who was found at Appleby Horse Fair in a very poor state. After extensive treatment from our Vet team, he was eventually re-homed as a companion horse and is now a much-loved family member
  • Yogi, who came to us as part of the Amersham rescue – the largest recorded case of equine neglect ever in the UK. Initially very aggressive, after a full rehabilitation programme Yogi eventually found a loving guardian home.

For more information about re-homing and our Guardianship Scheme, please visit the Re-homing section on our main site.




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In 2011 we reached maximum capacity for horses in sanctuary, with over 1200 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in our direct care.

All our horses live outside, as part of a herd, to enable them to demonstrate their natural behaviour and form close bonds with others. This gives them the freedom to exercise, interact and play – and we have found this to be the most effective way of helping them forget any trauma in their past treatment.

As well as a large team dedicated to equine care, we have:

  • a Night Welfare and Security team, who check on our horses at night, giving out night feeds and rugs if required
  • a Maintenance team, who look after our fencing, water tanks, field shelters and roadways
  • a specialist team of full-time equine vets and veterinary nurses based at our Horse Hospital in Norfolk, who can provide vet treatments and surgery whenever required.
Redwings staff directly employed in looking after horses: over 150
Horses in sanctuary over the age of 15: 564 

While each of our sites operates on a large scale, we believe every horse is unique and try to reflect this in the care that we provide. It can be quite a challenge at times!

Create your own PDF of the Annual Review to meet:

  • Molasses, a rare mule who is the size of a racehorse and a bit of a handful!
  • Ben, who arrived with us at one day old, and is now one of our most popular residents
  • Boo, the Clydesdale who gets so much out of life despite being completely blind.

For more information about our sanctuary care, please visit the Sanctuary section on our main site.



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Cases of deliberate cruelty to horses are thankfully rare – more often, owners are struggling with the cost or commitment involved in looking after their animal. Animal lovers can, with the best of intentions, take on a horse or pony without any idea of how much time and money is involved. Through educating people, we can:

  • help potential owners decide not to take on a horse, if they are unprepared
  • discourage the unnecessary breeding of horses when so many are in need of homes
  • try to prevent situations where an owner ends up neglecting the care of their horse.

Our education work takes other forms as well. In 2011, we:

  • educated police and Trading Standards officers on the safe handling of stray horses
  • attended Appleby Horse Fair, a major traveller event in Cumbria
  • trained local farriers on advanced remedial hoof care
  • gave talks on strangles and caring for geriatric horses
  • helped the RSPCA and local councils run passporting and microchipping events
  • hosted classes and students from equine colleges, schools and local interest groups.

TV appearances for Redwings in 2011: Anglia Tonight, Animal Madhouse and Dick ‘N’ Dom Go Wild

Our educational work is complemented by welfare leaflets, a twice-yearly newsletter and ‘Young Redwings’, our magazine for supporters under the age of 16. In recent years we have also placed more emphasis on web-based material and social media, enabling us to communicate directly and instantly with supporters and members of the public.

To find out more, create your own PDF of the Annual Review. To access resources for kids and teachers, please visit the Education section on our main site.



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In 2011 we rebranded and relaunched our community fundraising scheme. We created the Red Start fundraising pack with ideas, advice and useful forms to help everyone get involved. We also launched several new initiatives including Run for Redwings, which saw us enter eight runners into the British 10K in London.

Create your own PDF of the Annual Review to find out about two special purchases that our supporters helped us make:

  • three specialist slings for our Vet Unit – these are already saving lives
  • a refurbished horse ambulance, kitted out to our specifications, which travels the length and breadth of Britain to reach horses in need of rescue.

To find out how you can get involved, please visit the Fundraising section on our main site.

Community fundraisers who generated funds for Redwings in 2011: 460+
Young Redwings Fundraiser of the Year: Charlotte Chalkley
People who came to a Redwings Visitor Centre in 2011: 80,000+

From adopters to regular donors, to those who leave a legacy – our supporters are our lifeblood and we could do nothing without them. Thank you very, very much to all our supporters for your help in 2011.

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