The RSPCA, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare,  carried out a joint operation to remove 44 horses from a property in Sussex at the start of December.

The horses had been living wild on the 150 acre property for many years and with three resident stallions, had been breeding excessively in three separate herds. With ample grass and space, there were no welfare concerns for the horses at this time, however, left for several more months, this could have been a different story.

The owner, who was unable to cope with the number of animals, agreed to sign over the vast majority of the horses. The RSPCA co-ordinated the operation over two days, with the invaluable assistance from the Redwings Horse Sanctuary team to round-up and load the horses, and World Horse Welfare taking all 44 horses into their care for rehabilitation and rehoming.

Inspector Becky Carter who headed up the RSPCA team said: ”This was a fantastic joint operation and is a great example of the ‘prevention’ side of our work.

“This huge number of horses had been living wild at the site for years and constantly breeding.Although we didn’t have any immediate welfare concerns, this could have been a very different story a few more months down the line if we hadn’t intervened, as the owner was unable to manage the sheer number of animals.

“A huge part of our work involves dealing with unwanted horses, and so to organise an operation such as this which sees the horses safely removed and transported to rehoming centres before their welfare declines is a great positive for us and the other equine charities.

“We have been in contact with the owner for some time about the number of horses kept at the location and their future welfare, and are pleased that we could act in this way with the help of World Horse Welfare and Redwings to ensure the horses go on to have better futures.

“Our great thanks go to the teams from World Horse Welfare and Redwings for their fantastic efforts in this operation, and also to the Donkey Sanctuary who kindly provided transport for some of the horses.”

World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Emma Swadlo, said: “This joint operation is a brilliant example of effective partnership working and the results it can achieve. When rounding up a group of horses, it’s imperative that things run smoothly and calmly so as not to cause any undue stress for the animals. I know I speak for the whole World Horse Welfare team when I say that I was delighted with how the two days went.

“We have been working with the horses’ owner for quite some time and we are pleased that he has taken the responsible decision to sign over the horses to World Horse Welfare, safeguarding their future and preventing any further welfare problems.

“These large cases are unfortunately becoming more common. For any number of reasons some owners can become overwhelmed by the responsibility of keeping a large number of horses, and their welfare can deteriorate rapidly so it is essential that charities are able to help in these situations.”

Nicolas de Brauwere, Head of Welfare and Behaviour for Redwings,  said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the safe and efficient round up of the horses and ponies at the Chailey site. It was vitally important that the teams worked together seamlessly over the two-day operation; it was great to work with World Horse Welfare and the Donkey Sanctuary, and to be reunited with our RSPCA colleagues who’d previously attended Redwings’ round up training course in October.

“Rounding up three large groups of unhandled and nervous horses in an environment with an insecure perimeter creates a great deal of risk, so it was important for the operation to be carefully managed and for everyone to co-ordinate their efforts to ensure the safety of the horses.

“We hope all horses have a happy and secure future – well done team!”