Updated: Jan 12
I got to visit another fantastic sanctuary the other, Devon Horse & Pony Sanctuary. DHAPS is a relatively small sanctuary but they have a sister sanctuary in France and, between the two of them, they have been operating for over 40 years and have rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of horses and ponies. Here's a link to their website if you want to know more: http://www.dhaps.org.uk
Onto the visit. We met with Micala, the manager of the sanctuary, and her daughters and were given a tour of the land. Unfortunately for the horses, it was a really hot day, which brought out the flies who were a nuisance for both the horses and the camera! First of all, we were introduced to the adorable Amber, a little pony in the stables who has not yet grown to trust people but made an excellent model.
After several minutes with Amber, we moved into the field and were greeted by one of the biggest horses I have ever seen, Aqua. Aqua is an ex-racehorse, but she wasn't any good and so DHAPS stepped in to give her a safe and happy retirement. Soon we met Herbie. Herbie is a miniature-spotted pony over 40 years-old now, and I'll let the DHAPS website tell you his back story:
"Unfortunately, his breeder wasn't the most humane of people and had far too many ponies in his care. Herbie along with many others were used as breeding machines. He like many stallions wanted to be top horse and so would fight for the title. The breeder had been in trouble with Police and the RSPCA many times, even finding dead animals in his fields.
"One particular occasion Herbie was found with the most awful injuries along with a couple of dead ponies and wasn't expected to live. The RSPCA took him in with others and he was given the best veterinary care, on a drip for a week and his cuts and wounds stitched up. He was 19 years old and had to have the indignity of being castrated, but all for his own good. A foster home was found for him whilst he recovered and then the RSPCA contacted us and asked if we could take him in on a permanent basis."
Further on, we moved back to the horses, including Rio. Rio is an ex-police horse from The Metropolitan Police who was retired due to his failing eyesight. Rio is a relatively new addition to the DHAPS herd and he apparently hasn't yet learnt his manners around the older ladies, whom he tired out with constant chasing around their paddock before being split into two.
One of those lovely older ladies is the absolutely beautiful Fiesta. Fi's story is perhaps one of the most heartbraking of all the stories at DHAPS and I will leave you to visit their website (link above) and get the full story. She went through things that no being should ever have to go through and it's no wonder that she is so reluctant around new people.
Please, take a look through the photos I took while there and support this fantastic sanctuary in anyway possible. Like most, they have been feeling the impact of Covid-19 and would usually be welcoming around 6000 people per year. Remember, if you buy any prints or downloads of the photos of their animals, 50% of the profits go to back to the sanctuary.