Animal Friends Pet Insurance is making a donation of £6,000 to Horse World to help them care for Felix, a foal found abandoned on private land in tragic circumstances. The donation means that Horse World have now smashed their initial fundraising target of £10,000.
Fly-grazing is on the rise in the UK, with thousands of horses being left abandoned on private land. The law regarding this practice is a little woolly; while animal abandonment is illegal there aren’t any set guidelines regarding what should happen to the horses. Many are sold into the meat trade and exported abroad, often under false passports. In fact, Horse World have reported that the number of horses sold for meat in the UK appears to have doubled over the last seven years. Charities like Horse World do what they can to provide for these poor horses and ponies, and Felix’s case is a particularly harrowing one.
In January Horse World were called out to assist World Horse Welfare with a number of abandoned horses. The rescue team arrived at a site to find two foals around 4 months old who had been left to fend for themselves. One was so emaciated and weak that the staff felt the need to remove him from the site for immediate treatment. The other was lying dead in a drainage ditch. It’s been assumed that he was trying to reach what limited grass was available and was too weak to escape.
The survivor received immediate veterinary attention and is currently being given round-the-clock care. He needs to be fed small amounts on a regular basis to help him gain weight and get his strength up. He has to be lifted up throughout the night as he is too weak to get back on his feet by himself, and he’s also being treated for a case of worms that HorseWorld’s Husbandry Manager, Joanne Vaughan, has described as “shocking”. The vet has suggested that he was just hours away from perishing. They named him Felix, which means “lucky one”. Thanks to the perseverance of his rescuers he is coming on leaps and bounds, and is already running around on his own.
The devastating fact is that, while horrific, Felix’s story is not an isolated incident. Horse abandonment is a growing problem, and not all horses are found in time, or by such caring organisations. The suffering that these poor animals endure is unforgiveable, and Horse World estimates that around 7000 horses and ponies are currently at risk.
Jerry Watkins, Equine Welfare Manager of the charity, says: ‘We here at HorseWorld Trust are dismayed to find that the situation concerning the willful abandonment of horses and particularly ponies continues. We find that it remains really too simple and cheap to get hold of them. Irresponsible people then seem to have no concern over simply abandoning them when they get bored or find the hard work required to maintain a horse or pony too tiresome.’
An overcrowded market has made purchasing a horse a relatively simple affair, and the poor economy has led to the abandonment of many animals who suddenly become too expensive to keep. It becomes the responsibility of charities like Horse World to pick up the pieces.
Company Founder and MD Elaine Fairfax said, “To see such an increase in horse and pony abandonment up and down the country is simply heartbreaking. Thousands of horses are suffering unnecessarily because of the irresponsibility of humans. I have been a keen horsewoman since I was very young and when I heard poor Felix’s story I really wanted to help. Unfortunately it’s not just Felix who needs help, there are literally thousands of others like him. We are proud to support Horse World in the work they do helping these horses.”
If you have been touched by Felix’s story you can donate to Horse World or any of the other wonderful charities who care for abandoned, mistreated and unwanted horses. You could also volunteer at a shelter, helping take care of the grounds and the horses who live there.