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We left early last Monday to go and collect Corran Ard with a fair degree of trepidation. We had no idea what we were going to find, and the cloak and dagger atmosphere surrounding the location of the farm made us wary.

We had to telephone a number when we arrived at the nearest town to the farm, and someone came to guide us there. In the surrounding fields were heavy cob type mares, many with foals at foot. There seemed to be a lot of animals for such a ramshackle set up, and you have to wonder as to what their future would hold.

Whilst polite, this was all about business. The passport was handed over, the headcollar taken down, the horse brought out of the barn and the cheque changed hands. At this point the atmosphere mellowed and we chatted as they led the horse to us and gave us charge of him.

My first impressions were of a sad depressed horse with no hope in his eye,
and no interest in those around him. He wanted no contact, or attention, he turned his head away as I tried to communicate with him. He seemed as if he wanted to run away, but didn’t know where to go. He’d totally switched off from people.

I put a tail bandage on him for the trip, and when I went back to his head, he turned to put his nose gently against me, as if to recognise an act that he remembered from when life was OK for him.

He was caked with muck and stale bedding, so the priority was to wash him and have him feel better. It took two sets of lathering to run the water clear, and as we did it, again there was the recognition of something he was familiar with, and his trust and confidence grew unbelievably in such a short space of time. It was heartbreaking to see how obviously he had missed the kindness of a human touch.

He’s a few nicks and sores, and is very thin, but nothing that won’t fix. He’s alert and pricking his ears forward when he sees me now. Watching him relax, as the realisation dawned that he was safe and comfortable, was humbling.

What trust these horses put in us, and how often it is horribly betrayed.

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Very thin and dirty

Whilst monitoring the French ‘rescue’ forums over here, we saw to our dismay a racehorse from the UK, Corran Ard, at risk of going for meat.
On checking his details on the Racing Post site, we discovered that his last run on the 26th of March this year, was less than a month before his arrival on the site on the 20th of April.

His most recent trainer, Tim Vaughan, was promptly contacted and a series of emails ensued between us and the trainer’s assistant Mark Gichero, who assured us he was doing what he could to find out why the horse had ended up there.

Suddenly, on the 27th of April, the horse was taken off the site as no longer available. We then received an email from Mark Gichero saying that he had been in touch with his contacts in France who had assured him the horse would be found a home via them.

In the interim, after doing more research, we found other UK ex racers on that site from the same region of the UK. We alerted the BHA to the fact, and they have passed the details to their investigations team.

Imagine then, our surprise and horror when the horse reappeared on the website on the 15th of June, now at a lower price and in imminent danger of going to the abattoir.

We decided there was no time to waste. To ensure that the horse was given every chance of a future, but also very much to highlight the fact that this cross channel trade in unwanted UK horses and ponies to French dealing/meat yards is happening, we contacted the newspapers in the UK.

They in turn contacted Mark Gichero, who was understandably horrified that the horse had resurfaced back in the same place. After some discussion, Mark asked us how he could help to get the horse out of there, and generously funded his purchase price and transport costs. Corran Ard was collected on Monday 28th of June by ERF and now has his future secured with us.

He is a beautiful, sensitive horse who was obviously shell-shocked at the immediate change in his circumstances. Going from 5* treatment in a racing yard to being on the meat trail must have been bewildering and terrifying for him.

He will take some careful rehabilitation, he has been neglected to the extent that he was still wearing his racing plates when we collected him, over three months after his last race. Luckily, the attention being lavished on him was quickly accepted as his due, and the spark is back in his eye. The physical recovery will sadly take much longer.

You can read the Newspaper story in Wales Online.

We’ll update his progress in a couple of days. But just for the moment, here he is after a bath having a pick of grass.

One of our ERF supporters had been unlucky enough to fall within the 2km radius for quarantining and compulsory testing for EIA, after two positive cases of the disease were identified locally. She was obviously very worried about her horses when she discovered that the disease is considered ‘notifiable’ under EU regs, and that any animal found to be positive is euthanased.

Thankfully the area has now been given the all clear, and you can read her BLOG about her concerns here.

It’s hard to believe that the lives of these two lovely girls in the photo above could easily have been at risk because of the knock on effect of the illegalities of the meat trade.

Until import and export regulations are properly adhered to, there is always going to be a risk of this disease spreading. It is so important to fight to restrict the journey times of meat horses across the EU, and campaign for slaughter in country of origin.

We had a very worthwhile day out on Sunday at the Etcetera re-launch fete, where we got to meet some of our present supporters and also gained some new ones. It’s always nice to put a face to a name and to show some examples of  how donations are being used. Despite the slightly chilly weather there was an excellent turnout with lots of interesting stands and car boot stalls to keep everyone amused. A huge well done must go to the editor Lorraine who managed to pull off such a great family day out. ERF are pleased to be writing a monthly column for the Etcetera magazine on equines (of course!) and all back issues can be read online.

The ERF stand at the Etcetera event

We would also like to appeal for potential fundraisers that could maybe run a fundraising event or have a vide grenier stand in aid of ERF to please get in touch with us.

It’s only very temporary though, just whilst we make some improvements to the website!

We’ll let you know when the new site is live and in the meantime please keep visiting us here, on facebook and Twitter

Princess Haya, in her position as President of the FEI, has spoken out in favour of compulsory microchipping and passporting. Speaking to top European Veterinary officials attending the third European Veterinary Week (EVW) in Brussels today, the FEI President highlighted the need to create a clear distinction between the sport horse as an equine athlete and livestock that is part of the food chain.
“As an industry and as an organisation, we completely support the EU requirement for the now compulsory passports of all equines within the community and the introduction of mandatory microchipping”

The whole FEI article can be read HERE.

At last this issue is being addressed by a wider section of the horse population. To date, those concerned with traceability and identification of equines have been mostly welfare groups and government organisations concerned about the health aspects within the food chain.

With the export of unwanted/unsound British horses to European abattoirs, and the import of well bred but unsound European horses from the abattoirs queues to be sold on as competition horses in the UK, this is a welcome and overdue raising of the topic.

We also support the suggestions for changes to the TPA in this INAGS ARTICLE.

The Animal Medical Care Foundation (AMCF) have once again brought a big smile to our faces at ERF when we recently received a parcel of  donated medical products from them.

AMCF are a  Netherlands registered charity operating from the Netherlands and France and run by volunteers who supply medicines, medical equipment and other care products to animal shelters.

The wormers, antibiotics, grooming products and other useful equine items are much appreciated as it means we can use what little finances we have elsewhere in continuing to help those equines that need us most.

ERF Vinnie checking out the latest parcel from AMCF...think he approves!

We are always very grateful to receive any unwanted but useable equine equipment or products. Headcollars and leadropes of all sizes are particularly useful, so if you have any laying about that you no longer use, please think of ERF.