When trawling the internet one day for horsey places to visit in half-term I came across Canterbury Horse Rescue, which is near to where I live. Visitors, the website said, were welcome between 1-3pm on weekdays, so my dad rang to arrange a visit.
MEETING THE HORSES
Stella, who runs the charity, is the bubbliest person I have ever met! She sounded wise and full of experience as she showed us around to meet all the horses. Each had their own story whether they were abused, neglected, unloved – or just that their owners couldn’t look after them any more. They had all come to live and recover at the Sanctuary. Of course, I instantly fell in love with them all!
I really wanted to help and Stella agreed that Charlotte and I could go and help out. Stella met us at the stables – all the horses were out in the fields and the stables needed to be mucked out. We were introduced to Wiz, Stella’s daughter, and we all mucked out and swept the yard together. After an hour break there was still more work to be done. We filled 30 haynets and then, after all the chores were done, the fun could begin!
We brought in the horses to their clean stables and made up the feeds. The ones who lived out were Jaffa, Jasper, Billy, Fizz, Jack, Dandy and Pandora the donkey. This was when Charlotte and I were introduced to Jasper, the calmest and laziest pony I have ever met! We introduced ourselves to him, groomed and tacked him up. Wiz explained the importance of correctly-fitting tack, and how to tell if it fits. Then we led Jasper outside to the school where we got to have a long ride!
I LEARNT SO MUCH!
When my mum turned up to collect us the day seemed to be over far too quickly. We arranged to go back, of course! We went loads more times during the rest of the summer holidays, and had an amazing experience. I learnt so much during my visits: I got to ride bareback, rode some amazing horses, connected with them and, most importantly, had so much fun!
In August, on my birthday, something really special happened. My mum handed me an envelope and inside was a letter telling me I had adopted Billy for one whole year. I was overjoyed!
I was given a certificate of adoption, an amazing photo of Billy and his life story. Billy is a 15hh piebald cob who was abused when he was young. He hated the farrier and was aggressive with people. Canterbury took him in and showed him love and care and now he is a very happy horse.
During my next visit I spent time with Billy, giving him a bath, grooming and riding him, and although he is a bit strong, we have a good connection.
Over the past year Charlotte and I have managed to save hundreds of pounds to help, but this is not enough. The Rescue recently moved because their old landlord raised the rent. Every week they struggle to keep afloat with the increase in horses needing new homes.
This summer, Charlotte and I are planning to hold a fundraising day to say thanks for the great times, and to support the amazing work done by the Canterbury Horse Rescue.