As we struggle to cope with the numbers of horses needing our help, two plucky equines are planning to set out with their owners on a 100 mile trek just to raise money for our Felledge Equine Centre.
Scotch, a miniature Shetland pony, and Barley, a donkey, will take their owners, Tiggy Bays-Griffiths and Chelsey Bailey, on the first sponsored trek of its kind around East Anglia.
The seven day challenge will begin in Needham Market and end at the huge Equifest show at the Peterborough Showground on Thursday 14 August.
Tiggy was inspired to undertake the challenge after she rehomed Scotch from RSPCA Felledge in 2012. Scotch was one of 15 ponies found dumped by a railway line between Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
Scotch was the right pony for Tiggy
Tiggy heard about Scotch from one of our inspectors who knew that she had been looking for a very special miniature Shetland to join her carriage driving team. Scotch met all the criteria and Tiggy decided he was the pony for her.
Like many people, Tiggy didn’t realise the amount of work we do in rehoming rescued ponies and horses. She said:
“I had to give up riding in 2005 after a riding accident and then got involved with driving miniature Shetlands.
“I looked high and low for the right pony and Scotch was just right. I was so impressed with how Scotch had been cared for and how helpful the Felledge Equine Centre staff were that I just wanted to do something to help the RSPCA rehome more horses and to raise awareness of the scale of the horse crisis being faced by the country.”
Chelsey joined the trek with her donkey Barley and both owners sought veterinary advice before the pair embark on their trekking training. Full vet checks will be carried out beforehand and during the challenge. The route, which takes in various towns in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, has also been designed to pass near to veterinary surgeries.
“We have spoken to the Endurance Society for advice on a training plan and the Donkey Sanctuary agree that this promotes the message of exercise being important for donkey health. We also have two back up animals, just in case Barley or Scotch aren’t quite up to the trek.”
Horse crisis in England and Wales
We and other equine welfare charities estimate that about 6,500 horses are at risk across England and Wales due to rising feed prices and a market in which horses can be sold for as little as £5. Most of these are fly grazed or even abandoned and left to breed indiscriminately by irresponsible owners.
We have more than 800 horses in our care and desperately need new homes for them.
We are also urging the government to introduce new fly grazing legislation to allow landowners to take more action. In addition, we need greater enforcement of passporting and identification legislation so that we can trace animals back to their owners and make those owners take responsibility for them.
Join us in calling on the Westminster Government to introduce legislation to give horses greater protection.
How you can help
To find out how you can support them visit the Funamble Choices page or text ‘RSPCA1’ to 70111 followed by £3 to support the Funamble (texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message).