Redwings Horse Sanctuary is urging horse owners to look towards registered welfare charities when searching for a companion horse or pony for their equine. Companions play an integral role in the wellbeing of horses in work; they can provide them with invaluable friendship when they are not being schooled or in competition and even act as calming travel buddies.
Companions can also provide excellent company for those retired from work, as well as young and other non-ridden horses, or can simply make great family pets in their own right. Redwings has been rehoming rescued horses and ponies through its Guardianship Scheme for 15 years, either to be ridden, as unbacked projects or non-ridden companions.
However, while rehoming applications are quick to come in for those horses that can be ridden, those looking to find new families as companions can spend weeks, even months, waiting for someone to take them home.
In recent years, the charity has welcomed equines with increasingly complex health and behavioural needs, resulting in higher numbers of its rescued horses not being deemed suitable for ridden training.
Currently, Redwings has about 30 horses and ponies of all sizes going through the last stages of their handling training to become companions, with many looking for new homes now. Rachel Angell, Redwings’ Rehoming and Operations Manager, said: “Because of the specialist care we can provide, Redwings is often the last place horses in the most desperate need can turn - without us, they simply wouldn’t have anywhere to go. This means that a significant proportion of the horses we welcome into the Sanctuary will never be suitable for rehoming and not all those who are successfully rehabilitated back to good health will suit a life under saddle.
“We have a wonderful collection of horses and ponies who would thrive outside the Sanctuary and make wonderful additions to any family, but who sometimes get overlooked because they cannot be ridden.
“When you rehome from a registered charity like Redwings, you’re not only giving a second start in life to a rescued horse but you’re also providing space at the Sanctuary for another horse in need to be brought to safety. But with a companion, you’re also supporting a third horse – your existing four-legged friend!”
Rehoming a rescued horse or pony from Redwings is free of charge, but £50 is requested towards the cost of their passport and additional donations are welcome. Companions undertake the same level of handling training as those who go on to be backed, and prospective Guardians have the chance to spend time with them and receive a full account of the horse’s rescue and subsequent care at Redwings before committing to taking them home.
Redwings retains ownership of all its rehomed horses, so if the circumstances of the Guardian were to change, the horse could return to the Sanctuary. To find out more about Redwings’ Guardianship Scheme and the ponies ready to be rehomed, visit www.redwings.org.uk/rehoming. CASE STUDY: Companion Callisto At 15.3hh, cob cross Callisto is perhaps not the typical horse that people think of as a companion, but this handsome boy proves that horses of all sizes can make wonderful additions to the family.
In 2018, Callisto was rehomed to Guardian Charlie to be a companion for her ex-racehorse Tara after issues with low-level lameness ruled him out of a life of ridden work. “I knew I didn’t have time to ride two, but I wanted another horse so that Tara could live out more, with company, which is what I knew would be best for her. Coming to a rescue organisation to rehome one seemed like the obvious thing to do, so I could give a horse a new start,” said Charlie.
“I was looking for something that could be a grazing companion for Tara so it made sense that it was a larger horse that would be more compatible with her needs as a Thoroughbred, and Callisto fit the bill perfectly. He is known affectionately as the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and he is such a funny, charismatic chap!
“Even though they may not be ridden, there is still plenty you can do with non-ridden companions to make sure they are well-handled and happy. Callisto gets handled frequently to make sure he is mentally-stimulated and we lunge him occasionally, and overall we have been amazed by how adaptable he is!” CASE STUDY: Can you offer Ethel a home? Poor Ethel has been looking for a new home as a companion since October 2019. This sweet 15-year-old cob was rescued from south Wales in 2014 as part of a welfare operation involving over 400 horses. The horses were found stranded deep in mud without any food, suffering from malnutrition, worms and the infectious disease strangles.
While now recovered, Ethel, who is 14.1hh, is unable to be ridden due to poor conformation, potentially as a result of her background. She can be a little nervous around new people, but is very calm and adores fuss and attention once she gets to know you. If you think you can give Ethel a loving new home, please visit www.redwings.org.uk/rehoming.
To view a video of Ethel, and fellow rescued pony Treslea who is also looking for a home as a companion, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2ayWL4jlKo