Thursday, 10 June 2010

Writing for charity: HorseWorld

Animal histories, adult versions. Written for HorseWorld, Oct 2008 - Feb 2009.


When Bambino arrived at HorseWorld at eighteen months old, he was terrified of people. Bambino’s fear of human contact is so deep that we are still trying to gain his trust almost a year later.
We found Bambino when he and four other horses had escaped from the travellers that owned them. Driven to take hazardous and dangerous attempts for freedom, the small herd had strayed onto the roads of Bradley Stoke in Bristol. So desperate were they to get away from their owners, that, according to locals, this was sadly becoming a regular event. The animals gathered in a car park, where they were caught and brought to us. Three of the horses had to be returned to the owners, where they will inevitably continue to be mistreated until they escape again, but the travellers decided to leave Bambino and Vera with us, undoubtedly due to the condition that they had been allowed to reach.
Bambino’s mouth and body have been scarred by ruthless use of bit and harness, which we suspect were used when horses were forced into illegal trotting races. Horses are forced to relentlessly trot on open roads pulling a two-wheeled carriage behind them, putting the horses, as well as other road users, at huge risk of collision and injury. The welfare of these poor animals is severely compromised simply for the financial gain of their owners and punters; thousands of pounds can exchange hands in the world of gambling that surrounds trotting races. Constant trotting on concrete and the burden of the carriage that is permanently attached to the animals with ill fitting harnesses all put massive strain on the horses’ joints and bones, particularly in young horses like Bambino, which are frequently forced into these races. Bambino, still a growing yearling, now suffers from the damage, both physically and psychologically, that this disgusting mistreatment has led to.
Bambino was far too young to be broken in. At just eighteen months old, he was already suffering from arthritis and deformed joints resulting from outrageously aggressive racing.
He is now in need of long-term care, which means that he is unlikely to find a new home with anyone else. The money you have kindly chosen to donate to Bambino means that we can continue to gain his trust and give him the care and love that he has been denied.


Beauty is a lively mare and, at a grand age of 34, she gives most yearlings a run for their money! Along with Paco, her retirement partner, she still manages to keep our grooms on their toes! This is her second stay at HorseWorld, and is more than likely her final visit, as well as her final home.
Beauty first came to us in 2000, as her previous owners were finding her a compromise on their finances, which they simply could not afford. Many horses find themselves in a similar situation, but they are not all lucky enough to have owners who take responsibility for finding them a suitable new home. Shortly after arriving at HorseWorld, her irresistible charm attracted a new owner who loaned her from us.
For several years, Beauty enjoyed a life of happiness, and the proper care and attention that a horse requires from its owner; a life that unfortunately many other horses here have been deprived of. Beauty’s future looked secure, until in 2008, her owner passed away. By loaning animals out, rather than selling them, we ensure that they will never face the threat of homelessness again, and Beauty returned to us that summer.
Whilst Beauty’s age clearly has no effect on her energy levels or character, it is likely to prevent her finding a new loaner. It would be cruel to push her into strenuous work and vets’ bills will inevitably increase as she gets older. She will need much more attention, which would become very demanding for the average owner. We have therefore decided that Beauty will not be leaving us again. Thanks to your support, Beauty has escaped a future that could have been as miserable as some of her companions’ pasts. We can provide this friendly sweet-natured animal with the safe, healthy retirement that she deserves, thanks to your sponsorship.


Flame is a gentle chestnut Arab, who helped many children learn to ride in her previous home at a riding stable in Gloucester. Unfortunately, this riding stable was not as friendly as it seemed to riders who had lessons or kept their horses there.
The owner of the riding stables started reporting attacks on the horses residing at the stable in 2003. The animals were stabbed and slashed with blades on a regular basis. Not until the police started their investigations was it discovered that it was actually the owner herself who had been mutilating the animals with a Stanley knife. The attention from the police simply fuelled her aggression. She had even appealed on BBC television to find the attacker of the horses. Not only had she been stabbing her own horses, but even those belonging to other people, causing distress and trauma for all involved; human and equine. She was taken to court and was banned from keeping animals for life; due to her perceived mental condition, no prison sentence or community service was ordered.
For the horses to fully recover, both mentally and physically, from such barbaric, selfish and utterly unthinkable treatment seems impossible but incredibly, Flame’s sweet temperament has remained consistent and she has been heroic enough to prevent her past from affecting her present and future.
When Flame was auspiciously rescued from the torment of the stable yard, she found herself a kind, new family who showed her the love, care and compassion that she deserves. Inevitably, Flame’s young rider outgrew her, and the family knew that to continue riding Flame would be unkind so they found her a place at HorseWorld.
The injuries suffered at the hands of her first owner have developed so that Flame is now unable to be ridden again, so finding a new home for her would be very difficult. Such a lovable animal would be overwhelmed with kind people wanting to keep her, but Flame’s previous owner not only made her past an unbearable struggle for survival, but has compromised her future as well.
Your sponsorship has helped this brave animal defy her previous owner and find a secure home that provides Flame with the attention and treatment that she rightly deserves. With your help, Flame is now receiving the long term care that she needs.


When Jumble arrived at HorseWorld in May 2008, he had been found abandoned and crawling with lice and mites. His neglect had led to the overgrowth of his hooves, making standing, much less walking, uncomfortable and even painful.
Jumble’s awful condition alone was not what distinguished him from other horses. He has a rather unusual appearance due to deformities we believe he has had since birth. Jumble has no withers and his spine and ribs are twisted, so that riding him would be awkward and cruel. Sadly, this is more than likely the cause of his abandonment and his original destination of the meat-market. Fortunately, whilst Jumble has been with us, he has showed no signs of suffering resulting from his deformity; his appalling past has impacted him more than his misshapen body.
Jumble was shy and nervous when he first arrived with us at HorseWorld, having been deprived of human care and attention during his two years of life. Our staff spent months befriending him and gaining his trust. Their hard work has been rewarded and Jumble is a changed animal.
This scarred animal has worked his way into the hearts of our grooms, who Jumble now trusts so much that they can train with him before they move onto animals who are as nervous as Jumble used to be. By sponsoring Jumble, you are therefore not only helping him live the life that he, and every other animal, deserves, but you are securing the future of HorseWorld and our animals, both present and future. Without horses like Jumble, we would be unable to train our staff to the standard that we do.
Unfortunately, Jumble is unlikely to find a new home in the foreseeable future. Due to his deformity, Jumble could only ever be a companion horse, unable to be ridden. The staff at HorseWorld intends to monitor his deformity as he gets older, as growth may aggravate his deformity, causing stress, pain or a restriction of his movement. Sponsoring Jumble means that you have created a healthier, brighter future for him, which he could never have known without your care and support.


Paco arrived at HorseWorld in 2006, from a little further afield than most of our horses; Paco was kept at a riding stable in Athens. Unfortunately, he and the other horses were deprived of the care that they needed. Paco arrived in the UK with another horse from the same riding school, who we hoped we could also help. When they were rescued, both animals were incredibly emaciated from starvation and were nervous around people. Sadly his companion died of colic. Paco was lucky enough to survive and fight for his health, discovering human kindness on the way.
Paco’s sad mistreatment has left him with more health problems than the average 24 year old horse. Gaining and maintaining weight is a challenge for him, as well as for our staff looking after him. Paco is given hard food twice a day for the majority of the year; even during summer he spends very little time relying exclusively on grazing. Nursing Paco back to health when he first arrived was therefore tough work for all involved. Good company seemed to help though, as his weight happily increased when he was kept with Beauty, his closest companion. Part of the cause of Paco’s weight problem is his soft palate and lack of front teeth. Naturally, this makes grazing and even eating the food given to him incredibly difficult; our staff have to give him specially selected meals that we know he can eat.
Luckily, yet strangely, Paco’s energy does not seem to suffer from his weight problem at all, even at his age! He is a lively animal who always keeps our grooms on their toes. He has firmly overcome his fear of people and is comfortable around the staff that look after him.
Unfortunately, Paco’s health problems leave him needing permanent specialist care for the rest of his retirement here. This is why he will not be leaving us. Thanks to your sponsorship, Paco can continue to lead the life that he was denied and he can now received the long-term care that he has been left in need of.

Children's versions and updates to follow

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