Archive for September, 2008




France is no different to any other country in that each year there are many horses, ponies and donkeys that are unwanted, sick, old, injured or simply unrideable. In France it is expensive and very unpleasant to have a horse euthanased, whereas the carcass has a value. Rural France is not a wealthy area, and the practicalities of gaining some money from an animal (injured, old, unwanted) whose future is only death overrides sentimentality.


The price of euthanasia is governed by the following; it is illegal to not use a vet, or licensed slaughterman, and the vet is only allowed to inject with fatal doses of drugs, not use a gun. Hence part of the cost lies in the vet’s callout charge, and the price of the drugs. Having the carcass collected is also expensive, and the body is usually not collected for several days. It is left lying at the end of the road to the property, bloating and being eaten by wild animals, a horrible and upsetting sight.


In the UK, there is a network of ‘knackermen’ and hunts to quickly slaughter and dispose of such animals. However, France is a country that traditionally eats horse and donkey meat and so mostly every equine has a price tag and therefore a different solution has evolved. France has a network of over 150 approved abattoirs which process over 24,000 animals annually. Healthy carcasses end up on the table and the rest go to the rendering plants.


The reality in France is that many horses are bred specifically for meat, in fact, many of the traditional heavy breeds have only survived by being bred for meat. These animals are really the same as cattle in their outlook on life and have had little or no human contact, barring being herded into a cattle crush to be microchipped. Often these horses are powerful older animals and have no comprehension of even basic handling. In attempting to save these animals from slaughter, the safety of both the horse and the human is endangered as we have seen on many occasions. Whilst often docile, they are clearly frightened and have no idea of leading. They are powerful enough to be impossible to control in a normal manner from the ground. There are dangers of horses falling off ramps and breaking limbs, or running loose across the countryside, possibly into traffic or even badly injuring the well-meaning people who want to try and find them a new life. Commercial transporters for the meat trade have specially designed lorries with very strong metal ramps and fixed gates to prevent the horses falling to the side or getting free when loading. Most commercial private horse transporters do not have suitable equipment for dealing with what are essentially wild horses, weighing at least a ton apiece.


Whilst as horse people we find it very sad, at ERF we believe that we cannot be opposed to the slaughter of equines at local, regulated abattoirs as the other options are unworkable and unthinkable. At the very least, 24,000 horses are locally slaughtered and avoid the horrendous long journeys to Italy which face nearly 10,000 others. At the same time, we need to work to reduce the number of ill, abandoned and unwanted equines through education and responsible ownership.


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Our two gorgeous girls Ruby and Ebony, rescued from a market back in April, are now looking for Guardians to care for them throughout their lives. Although we hate to say goodbye to them, they are now both confident enough to move on to new loving permanent homes, which will enable us to help other equines in need.

We feel that as Ruby is still slightly wary of strangers, probably from some abuse in her life, that she would be better suited as a companion pony than a riding pony at this moment in time. We don’t think she would suit being handled by children and would need to be placed in an experienced home. She is approx 1.30m and about 10 yrs old. 

Ebony is Ruby’s daughter and is a yearling. She is a stunning looking pony about the same size as her mum at the moment, who would have a promising career as a child’s riding pony ahead of her in the right hands. She has been well handled whilst with us but because of her age would obviously need backing in a few years time.She should make about 1.40m at maturity.

Both the ponies are microchipped,registered,vaccinated,wormed and have had their feet trimmed. Ebony is weaned and the pair could either be rehomed separately or together.

Any potential Guardians are homechecked by ERF and the ponies would be placed under a contract for their lifetime. There is more info of becoming a Guardian on our website here. If you would like to offer either of them a home please contact us at admin@equinerescuefrance.org

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Various people have been enquiring about the latest news on the Trakehner horses in Spain.

Our latest information suggests the situation is Spain is as heartbreaking and frustrating as ever. The horses are still with Suzy Jenkins and the Spanish authorities are apparently not being helpful.

Unconfirmed reports are that more horses have died, with the death toll to date exceeding 20.

The CACMA have been refused permission to deliver food to the horses. We are however led to believe Jenkins is feeding them. Unfortunately we have no information as to whether or not the quantities they are receiving is sufficient.

The UK Spanish Appeal fund still needs to raise as much money as possible. Once the horses are finally released the costs will be used directly for vets, farriers, dentist and food. All monies collected in the account will be sent to Spain where it will only go directly to help the horses. It will not be spent on Admin or legal fees.

The horses are still in very poor condition and too weak to endure a journey of any length. 

On a positive note, there are many offers of local help in Spain to take horses as soon as they are freed. This will allow these poor animals the time to build up their strength for the journey back to the UK. The response of offers to rehome horses in UK has been overwhelming, as have the offers of stopover or short term accommodation in France, to break the journey and allow them to rest.

We are all keeping our fingers crossed that the future progress on the case is positive.




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Our beautiful Nanette landed well and truly on her hooves this week when she left us to live with her new guardian Caroline in the Limousin.

Cast your minds back to the curly hooved, poor looking donkey that was on her way to be made into sausages….just look at her now!

A new proud mum!

A new proud mum!

We can’t thank Caroline enough for offering Nanette such a wonderful pampered new life. We look forward to hear all about her antics in the near future.

Wilbur,one of our rescued donkeys has been successfully gelded now and will be ready for a new home shortly as will female donkey Piona. We also have Ruby and Ebony the rescued market  ponies who are needing special homes now.

If you would like to be considered as a guardian for one of our equines please get in touch or have a look here where we have some information on becoming a guardian.

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An ERF Welfare case….

We are often reported welfare cases that vary in severity from gently reminding the owner to make improvements, to involving the DDSV (Directions Départementales des Service Vétérinaires). Due to the delicate nature involved with welfare cases we cannot always disclose the details, but please be rest assured we are dealing with these cases on a weekly basis.

One recent sad case was that of 2 horses that were found in an extremely poor state.



As it was out of our geographical area and the owners could not be identified we asked the local DDSV to intervene. Patience is often needed with authorities such as these as they can be extremely busy. The outcome was that the vets attended the horses, who were well into their twenties, and given their numerous physical problems it was decided that unfortunately nothing could be done for them. The owner who was present agreed and they were euthanised together by the vet.

Whilst it is always sad when horses are put to sleep, sometimes it is the most selfless way in which we can end their suffering.

If you know of an equine you think needs helps please let us know.

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For those of you that haven’t yet added your name to the Handle with Care campaign, we are asking you to please do it now.

In October the issue of long distance transportation of live animals will be debated by those with the power not only to enforce and improve welfare regulations, but to put an end to these journeys for good.The Handle with Care coalition will present a petition to the EU Commissioner to demonstrate the strength of public opinion on this issue.

They need more signatures to ensure this is the best chance ever of getting action taken….add yours now to help end the unnecessary suffering.

The start of a journey from Spain to Italy

The start of a journey from Spain to Italy

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The recent Irish fundraising night in aid of ERF went down a storm!

A whopping 152 people attended the event which was held at the beautiful lakeside location of Beau Vallon in Montguyon.

Charente based Irish folk band ‘Le Craic’ performed an array of well know Irish tunes which soon had people up on the dance floor partying. Once again the English book sales went well and they are now a popular addition to the ERF stand!








Huge thanks must go to our ever hard working fundraiser Christina Hernon (and hubby John) who organised this event raising approx 700€ for ERF. These much needed funds will help towards our recent large vet fee’s having to castrate 2 of the donkeys and correcting neglected feet problems.

We are aways grateful for volunteers to offer to fundraise, if you think you could organise anything from a coffee morning to a Christmas ball, please get in touch by phone or email.

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