Four Arabian mares rescued from one of the worst stables the RSPCA had ever seen have made a stunning recovery – from emaciated and terrified to confident and strong – and are looking for new homes.
Just one year ago, Zahra, Kamara, Marwanisa and Angelique were timid and weak, with thinning manes and overgrown hooves, when they were seized by RSPCA officers from The Sycamores in Jubilee Lane, Marton.
They were among 31 horses taken from the property last September.
Officers had to use a hammer and screwdriver to get into the stables, where the Arabian pure-breeds were found living in their own filth with piles of muck and dirty straw around them.
Some of the horses’ hooves had grown into ‘Aladdin’s Slippers’ – a painful condition where the animals’ feet curl up – as a result of the neglect.
One mare collapsed as she tried to climb off the pile of muck which had built up in the stables.
READ MORE: Woman given 10-year animal ban for 'most horrific' neglect RSPCA had ever seen still has pets on her property
Gareth Johnson, an RSPCA equine welfare operations manager, said: “I’ve worked with horses the world over for 50 years, but when we arrived it was hard to take in at first – stables filled up to our knees in muck with emaciated, filthy horses inside.
"Some were shuddering from the pain from their overgrown feet, others terrified to be touched, and some with their withers almost reaching the door frame because of the level of filth that had been allowed to build up.
“I remember one horse in particular took over an hour for us to coax him down off of the muck and out of the stable as his hooves had curled up and over and were causing him so much pain. He hadn’t been out of the box for so long, he was just terrified of people. It was distressing to see such majestic horses like these scared and covered in muck.
“We then faced the tremendous task of getting the horses out of the stables and loading the nervous animals onto trailers to transport them one by one for urgent veterinary treatment.
"We were joined by the owners of a private boarding yard who we work with and who had agreed to board the horses for us. After being treated by the vets, the horses were taken to the yard and that is where the real work started.”
'Our most challenging work - and the most rewarding'
Some of the horses were taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk, where they embarked on a lengthy recovery.
Eleven of the seized stallions and mares had to be put down.
But Zahra, Kamara, Marwanisa and Angelique each made a good recovery, and after months of specialist care and rehab are now looking for new homes.
Gareth said: “Over the past 12 months, we and the private boarding yard owners have worked tirelessly night and day to help these horses start their lives over.
"We persisted with kind and gentle handling and after about a month, some started to show signs of responding and gradually they all began to trust us.
"Looking at them today, I cannot believe they are the same horses. Although their rehabilitation has been some of the most challenging work we’ve done, it’s absolutely one of the most rewarding.
"We helped bring them back to being horses again, and now it’s time for them to find the forever homes they truly deserve.”
Finding the horses a new home
The RSPCA has urged horse lovers to rehome from them as they rescued almost 90 horses a month last year.
The charity rescued 1,071 horses from neglect and suffering in 2019, and has hundreds looking for loving homes.
As part of the animal welfare charity’s special rehoming drive Adoptober, new figures have been released showing that, although more than 320 horses were found new homes last year, 886 currently remain in specialist equine centres and private boarding stables.
Adoptober aims to showcase the RSPCA’s horses and ponies’ versatility and capability, whether they are ridden horses, companion animals or youngsters with lots of potential.
To find out more about the horses available, email firstname.lastname@example.org