Photo crop (passport)

Pops was a 30-year-old Russian carriage horse who came into us in 2009 due to suffering an injury whilst being driven, making him no use to his previous owner.

After Pops arrived with us, his sad history became apparent. He was a 30-year stallion who had lived his entire life in a stable. He had never been out in a paddock; he’d never socialised with other horses or experienced a normal horse’s life. It was absolutely tragic.

We liaised with our vet and debated how to give him a chance of living a normal life. We could not obviously turn him out with our mares, un-neutered, but finding a vet willing to castrate a 30-year-old horse was not easy.

The alternatives would have been keeping Pops in a stable for the rest of his life, which would not have been at all fair and was how he had already spent 30 years, or euthanasia. Pops deserved a chance at experiencing what it was like to actually be a horse, and we eventually found a vet willing to give him that chance.

Pops made a full recovery from his op and we slowly introduced him to how the ‘other half’ live. This was a horse who had never been given the freedom of a paddock or the company of other horses in 30 years.

After weeks and weeks of slow progress, he finally bonded with Birdy, one of our beautiful resident mares. He would spend his daytime grazing with her, never leaving her side, and was soon happy to come into a stable overnight.

After four months he settled into sharing his grazing with 6 other horses, male and female, and you could easily forget that he had only recently discovered how simply to be a horse.

Pops’ story is sadly not unique. In most cases, this is normal life for stallions: confined to a stable without the company of other horses and being handled like a wild animal. But horses are herd animals; being without companions makes them anxious and distressed.

Most people would not have castrated such an old horse. However for Pops it was in his best interest; his last chance at a normal life. Despite the risks involved, it gave him the happy ending he deserved.

Pop spent the rest of his days at our sanctuary, living happily and as a horse should. He passed away peacefully in the summer of 2010.

Pops and Birdy

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