Getting a rescue horse or pony can seem daunting, and might be something that you hadn’t considered. Helen shares her story about how she came to rehome Bransby Lady Mianella which will hopefully encourage others to consider rehoming rather than buying…
Throughout my life I have always ridden and loved the sport of eventing – to me it’s the ultimate test of all round horsemanship. I was fortunate enough to be able to start competing at BE80 (T) classes in 2012 (a late starter at 42!) with my horse which I had owned since he was a foal – Country Blackout.
We progressed – slowly – to BE90 but started to have issues in 2016 with poor performance; after a diagnostic visit to Newmarket Equine Hospital I had to make the tough decision to have Jack put to sleep. He was 9 years old.
Although I was covered for vets’ fees on insurance, there was still a high financial cost, and I didn’t have loss of use cover; meaning I couldn’t afford to buy another horse for eventing. My only option was really to buy something unbroken or a youngster ready to bring on. This wasn’t a daunting task as I have had all my previous horses from unbroken youngsters – but it did mean that competing would have to take a break for some time.
So in August 2016 I started to look around at youngsters.
Did you specifically want a rescue horse?
No: I was looking for a 3 or 4 year old within a limited budget that had the potential to event.
I thought – like most people – I thought that rehomed rescue horses were really just companions that maybe have physical or handling issues due to their history.
I hadn’t considered that there are many young horses who are ready to be brought on for a ridden career. Sadly due to indiscriminate breeding and increasing costs of upkeep, there are more and more young horses who’s welfare needs cannot be met by their owners. With the right care, attention and good handling they can go on to have really great lives with a foster home; leaving space at the rescue and welfare centres to support older equines.
How did you choose her?
I think it was fate that brought us together!
I had asked my instructor to keep an eye out for any youngsters which may be suitable for me; she knew what I was looking for; and also what I would be capable of doing with her support.
Shortly after that one of her friends heard of Bransby Lady Mianella becoming ready for rehoming. They both thought that we would be a good match. I got in touch with Bransby straightaway.
I was invited to go and meet lady Mianella and have a chat to her trainers. On the second visit, I had a short ride on her and I fell in love! . It was quite a nerve-wracking time because I could feel there was something very special about her, more so than any of the other horses I had been to see with a view to purchase I then had to go through the formal loan application process. I feel so privileged that they allowed me to take her on.
Did you know anything about rescues before you got one?
No – I was very aware of Bransby and Blue Cross and the great work they do on rescue and welfare. I had considered taking on a companion from a charity when I lost Jack, as my daughter has a 13hh traditional gypsy cob who needed a companion. However, my friend offered to let him live with her horses until I found a horse for myself so I didn’t look into it any further.
I had not ever considered this option when looking for a horse for myself.
What problems are there with getting a rescue?
None – there are a few considerations though; such as what horses are available when you are ready. You have less selection of breed, colour, gender, type if you are taking on a welfare horse. If you a searching for a particular sort of horse then you may struggle. You may also really like a horse but the charity may feel that you are not a good match.
A rescue horse may not have seen much of the ‘outside world’ – for example they may not have travelled to shows and may not have hacked out alone. Lady Mianella had never travelled in a trailer when she came to me and was a bit anxious on her first journey. So, we did regular short trips out for lessons and she quickly relaxed an looks forward to going out now.
I also spent a lot of time in our first winter hacking out alone and building up a trust and bond between us, as she tended to be quite tense.
What advantages are there with getting one?
Loads! First of all, you can be assured that the charity that you are working with will want to ensure that you and your horse are a good match in terms of size, ability and capability. They will also consider the environment in which your loan horse will live, and know whether this will be suitable for each horse.
Bransby knew that a small yard or private home would be more suitable for Lady Mianella than a large busy livery yard. As I just have one other horse at home this was perfect for her.
Secondly, you know that you will be given a totally honest insight into each horse’s character, training so far and any challenges they may have. You can also rest assured that they have been handled professionally and by different people so they are not likely to have quirks that you might get with some horses that have just been handled or ridden by the same person.
Lady Mianella was an incredibly well-mannered 5 year old when she came to me; in and out of the stable, with the farrier, physio and vet. This is all a credit to the way that she was managed at Bransby.
Finally, you can be absolutely sure that any veterinary treatment they have needed in terms of regular farriery, teeth, vaccinations, working etc will be up to date and have been done to a very high standard; giving you a firm foundation to carry on. Lady Mianella had been having treatment with Sue Palmer when she was training with Carrie Adams. I was made aware of this and carried on working with Sue once I had taken her over.
How long have you had her?
She came to me on October 2016 after a period of retraining with Carrie Adams at Centrelines Dressage. I had been riding her for a few weeks at Carrie’s before she came home.
What do you do with her?
I do plenty of hacking and have regular lessons each month. As with any young horse; it’s great to do lots of different activities and get into new environments. Lady Mianella had a slight injury to her hock last summer, which put us out of action from June to October but over the winter we did quite a lot of indoor jump training sessions, then moved onto to cross country training in the spring: she’s come back stronger than ever.
So far in 2018 we have completed a couple of unaffiliated events (placed third at Eland Lodge in June), started eventing at BE 80 (T) level this season (placed 5th at Speetley and 8th at Eland Lodge) as well as competing at local dressage and show jumping competitions in between.
We will do a few more BE 80 (T) events this season with a view to stepping up to BE90 in 2019.
Do the rescue charity keep in touch with your progress?
Absolutely; Bransby Horses arrange regular welfare visits and I also keep them in touch with progress via e-mail. They check worming routine , vaccinations and farriery visits and will condition score the horses at visits. There is also a Facebook group for all the “Friends for Life” which is a great way of celebrating the success and progress of all the Bransby family.
If you have been inspired to re-home rather than buy, why not contact Bransby to discuss your options?
Thank you to Helen for sharing her story with us, and if you have a story that you would like to share with other please comment below!