About me and this Blog

I am a woman of a certain age who has finally been able to enjoy my love of horses Initially to ride them but as time has gone on I have learnt there is more to horses than riding them and want to share this with you.

I have 2 other blogs, feel free to browse,

you can follow me on Twitter @alisonbarton1

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Horse Rescue the good the bad and the ugly

I have just rescued a horse, it was not straightforward I experienced a myriad of difficulties I thought anyone out there thinking of doing the same might want to benefit from my mistakes and information I have come across from the wider Horse rescue community.
If you can go and visit ask questions don't be fobbed off

The overding and most fundamental piece of advice from several sources is, deal with a local rescue centre?

Well I live in the UK and rescued from Portugal, personal choice but makes things harder. The reason a local connection is encouraged is so you can develop a relationship with the centre, check it out, get to know the people involved ,the animals and witness the care etc given while the rescued animals are at the centre. Also you can check out other peoples experiences who have already rehomed a horse, your support can be gradual from volunteering  at the centre to fundraising and donating yourself as you gain confidence in their integrity.Finally resulting in offering a full time forever home when you are absolutely sure its right for you and the centre can ascertain you are right for them and offer after rehoming support and guidance.

If you decide to rescue from a rescue centre abroad  advice is proceed with care!
Obviously because you will find it difficult if not impossible to do any of the above regarding a local centre. Of course you can visit the centre, but my experience of that is you have to remember it is a tiny snapshot in time and the rescue and rehabilitation process for one horse can take 3 to 6 months, depending on their level of abuse and neglect when rescued. So again the advice is not to rush into anything. Watch listen and learn.

Rescuing Horses can be a noble and altruistic activity, however this environment can attract unsavoury personalities, both with regard to misuse of funds and /or misuse of the activity to fulfil an inapporpriate  egotistical or psychological issue.
This can sound alarmist, but think of the "mad catlady" notoriously seen in various news reports over generations. Animal hoarding is a recognised psychological problem. As is "Saviour syndrome or white knight syndrome and more general personality type that can hijack an operation like this is a sociapath. The bottom line is, although initially these people may seem well meaning and sincerre they have a different agenda to that of taking care of animals effectively and can mask this for a considerable amount of time resulting in further abuse and neglect to animals in their care and heart ache and anguish for the people drawn into their web of deciet.
How do you spot a centre run by people like this?
Avoid being manipulated by tragic photographs
Examine their online presence and social media messages, avoid any that continually draw you into their own personal tragedies  and emergencies for instance report break ins, robberies, cash flow problems, resulting in desperate need to replace large amounts of money.No food to feed themselves and family bereavements etc etc, even if these things are true they are hardly in a good place to care for vulnerable animals and  most genuine rescues would not attempt to capitalise on these occurences.
There is a main person(crusader) or a small group is centre stage in photos and in the narrative of comments, how hard it is, how they cried how they saved so and so. This type of person clearly craves attention and will use particularly sick animals or tragic stories to get you to donate funds immiediately. Avoid knee jerk responses when you are being manipulated.These personality types may react more strongly than most to being questioned or criticised.(no question and answer pages, no acceptance of mistakes made or lessons learned)

A bone fide rescue centre will be open and transparent in their dealings and operate in a professional manner  particularly with their suppliers, vets, farriers  other specialists, volunteers , the wider local community and prospective and actual rehomers.
They should publish accounts, fundraising targets and all sources of income/substantial donations. Numbers of animals in rescue, rehomed and progress of those long stayers should be clearly available to all. If not a registered charity it would be best practise to run along similar lines with a committee and open general meetings and open days. Animals in their care should improve in condition any failures to thrive should be explained. Standards of care should be published together with information packs to accompany horses to new homes re diet and care settling in. The rescue centre should aim to establish solid and longstanding relationships with professionals to support the operation regrading health and welfare of horses, training staff and volunteers and fundraising and accounts. Constant changes are disruptive and can indicate unsatisfactory practises and poor interpersonal skills, not ideal for working with vulnerable animals.

What a good rescue centre should look like when you visit..
Most profesionals will advise that you should be able to  visit without an appoinment, during opening times. The establishment should be fit for purpose normal horse welfare rules apply with regard to shelter, food, security water and safety. No shortcuts normal health and safety requirements need to be adherred to. It will be more important not less to provide the best of care to vulnerable and sick horses.  There should not be unused equipment stacked up and not in use where needed, ie rubber matting, head collars, water bowls, bedding etc.There should be a daily routine and staff should be industrious and helpful. There should be evidence of feeding times and exercise/medical interventions . Equipment and food should be properly stored and accessible. Reasonable questions should recieve reasonable explanations.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A twist in the tale!

What I have learnt from this last twelve months is , making plans is ok? but it doesn't really have anything to do with what will happen. Last January I was happily continuing my riding, even on those chilly days I was riding at least three times a week until I went bump. After a spell in hospital and six weeks in a brace waiting for my fractured verterbrae to heal, I really had no idea how all things horsey were going to pan out for me. It was a serious fall, in so much as the degree of impact it had on me and my loved ones. Obviously getting back to walking, driving and being independent was the priority, riding was not on the horizon at all. No argument from me, however perhaps a visit to the stables? just to stroke the horses. A life without horses was difficult to accept, so my visits continued and I enjoyed watching lessons, grooming the horses and generally helping out.

My consultant told me whatever I was doing was helping me and to carry on doing it so I did. One of my favourite horses at the stable, Spirit, needed a bit of TLC and in hand ground work so I offerred to take that on. I am not sure who benefitted more him or me?
I started to really love my time with Spirit and the exercise was very good for me and I could see the schooling was improving Spirit's flexibility and manners. Then I felt ok to lunge so took some lunging lessons and found this very enjoyable too. So the thought of not riding and working with horses on the ground was gaining favour.
My consultant discharged me and said come August I could ride again if I must! So I put that idea on the back burner and decided to just enjoy the summmer, doing what I was doing, then, because I had time on my hands I went on a trip to Portugal and visited a horse rescue centre and saw the state of some horses in the area of the Silver coast. I am sure some horses were ok in that region but what we saw made me mad and sad. When I came home we decided to rescue a horse each and bring them back to stay at Redbrook Equestrian with Hayleys others horses. I would not have done this without someone as experienced as Hayley to help as a mentor, but after alot of heartache and difficulties and a feeling that I was in fact rescuing my horse from the rescue centre, the two fillys arrived.
After initial rehab the two filly's enjoy a run in the school
My rescue horse Iona and my rescue dog Libby meet
I have changed remarkably since my accident from a person who just wants to ride to someone who has learned so much more about the joy of being with and taking care of horses. I do ride again now and still enjoy it, but I adore taking care of my horse, this is a journey I would not have set out on, without the unfortunate accident. I would probably never have bought my own horse let alone a baby I couldn't ride but, life's journey is a strange one and just when you think you are in the driving seat something will happen to take away the controls. This year's New years eve all I could say was here's to the next twist in the tale. Alison x