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 British Horseracing Association 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.
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.
We are overjoyed that Corrie has found a new Guardian along with his stable mate Leon – you can read the whole story here.
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