There are many different ways to get involved in the community and for animal lovers, there’s no shortage of opportunities to help our vulnerable four-legged friends. RVA works with a number of local animal charities, which rely on volunteers to operate.
One such charity is Brownbread Horse Rescue. It was launched by husband and wife team, Tony Smith and Dinty Steains, in 1972 and more than 40 years later they are still rescuing horses and ponies from miserable circumstances. Brownbread currently has around 20 horses on its farm in the village of Ashburnham. Many of these require 24 hour supervision owing to extreme age or complex medical conditions. The charity has a further 30 horses under its care which are on loan to approved homes.
Rescuing a horse is a complicated task not least because of their size. Even a Miniature Shetland weighs considerably more than the biggest dog but that didn’t deter Tony and Dinty when they found Misty and her foal holed up in a tiny back yard in Bexhill.
Tony said: “The ponies had been bought by a lady who simply had no idea how to look after them or what they needed. She kept them in a concrete yard with no space or grazing. We had to lead the mother up a flight of steps, which fortunately she was nimble enough to negotiate. However, the foal was so weak we had to carry her. We named her Carnival as it was going on in Bexhill the day we rescued her.”
Other residents on the farm include Polly, a retired polo pony and Boney, an arthritic Thoroughbred who may have had a racing career. Both had been rescued by previous owners and passed on to Brownbread to end their days in comfort. Polly has taken on the role of companion to a blind Shetland pony called Rocky, who was left to die in a field. He also has tooth problems and several times a day Polly leads him up to the gate so he can eat his specially prepared meals.
Rocky has a happy ending to his story but sadly it’s not the case for a great many horses and ponies. While Tony and Dinty are doing everything they can, they need volunteers to help look after the horses on the farm.
Dinty explained: “Ideally we need people who are over 16 and have some experience with horses. Even if they can only commit to a few hours a month, it all helps.
“We also need volunteers out in the field who can go and assess horses that have been reported to us. We often hear too late of animals that have been left to die in a field and it’s heart-breaking because we could have helped had we known in time. We urge owners who find themselves in circumstances where they can no longer look after their horse to get in touch as there’s always something that can be done to help.”
If you would like to find out more about how you can help out at Brownbread Horse Rescue please contact Tony and Dinty on 01424 892381 or visit their website www.brownbread-horse-rescue.co.uk
RVA is the local organisation that drives the voluntary and community sector in Rother. We work with voluntary and community groups which run activities and support services, helping our community to thrive. Although these groups provide a vital service, they operate in isolation, often without funding or support. We provide the resources, expert advice and practical support to help them operate effectively. There is more information about the work we do and the projects we support, including Brownbread Horse Rescue, on our website www.rva.uk.com