I recently had the opportunity to visit Hope Pastures Horse Charity based in Leeds. Hope Pastures charity was originally registered in 1974 as the Phyllis Harvey Horse & Donkey Trust to rescue horses, ponies & donkeys which were being abused. In April 2004 the Trust adapted this aim to Rescue, Rehabilitate and Re-home wherever possible. Unfortunately due to the ill treatment suffered by some of the animals they never fully regain their trust of humans and therefore some are unable to be rehomed.
The charity’s proximity to Leeds City means that the charity offers people living in the city a chance to interact with horses, donkeys and ponies. The centre is open every day and visitors are able to see the animals out in their fields. Plus they offer experience days with one to one guidance, activities throughout the school holidays, visits to schools and care homes and much more.
Sophie the yard manager was on site to greet me and the first job of the day was to get stuck in with the mucking out and sweeping down the yard. The majority of the horses and ponies at Hope Pastures are stabled overnight and have access to turnout in the day. This helps them acclimatise to life on a yard and being in a stable, which is vital for when they are rehomed.
Whilst mucking out I met a few of the regular volunteers who were really friendly and eager to help me find my feet. They are really passionate about the horses and the charity depends upon these dedicated individuals to keep running.
Following this I was very fortunate to watch behaviourists Hannah Weston and India work with a very timid pony Rafael. This stunning Welsh Section A didn’t have the best start in life and was very nervous of contact. Following work with Hannah Rafael has made great progress and he now stands to be groomed and was practising picking up his hooves whilst I was there. Whilst for most of us this seems like an everyday task for a pony that had barely been handled and was terrified of people this is an amazing achievement and a clear indication of the dedication of staff at Hope Pastures who have spent hours implementing and practising the training from Hannah. Hannah uses positive reinforcement and clicker style training and it was great to see that clear effective communication is the key to good horsemanship.
I was then tasked with poo picking the donkey’s field. The two donkey’s Coco and Banjo came to the centre not long after each other and now have an inseparable bond. They have become something of a draw and are very popular with all the visitors. Banjo was quite shy; however Coco soon came over to have a look what I was doing and enjoyed a good scratch and cuddles.
After lunch I worked alongside another volunteer who has only recently started helping out on the yard. We got stuck in with Jax the assistant yard manager and volunteer co-ordinator and groomed two of the resident ponies. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the dedication of yard staff in teaching them about horse care along the way.
Having chance to have a catch up with Sophie it was clear that Hope Pastures are at the fore of the rescuing process and are often called out to cases of neglect or abuse where the animals are in appalling states. Having met some of the ponies and hearing more about their stories it is amazing to see how well they have progressed. This is solely down to the care they are given by both staff and volunteers and the generous donations of the public which enable Hope Pastures to rescue and rehabilitate.Everyone I spoke to was so keen to do their best for the horses, ponies and donkeys in care at Hope Pastures. The staff at Hope Pastures are really friendly and committed to the animals. Their enthusiasm transfers to volunteers who seem to share the same passion for giving animals that have often been neglected or abused the best chance of finding their forever home.
Hope Pastures is Bramham Horse Trials 2017 Charity of the year! To celebrate they have organised The Great Hope Raffle. There are loads of fabulous prizes from leading equestrian suppliers up for grabs including R&R Vouchers. Find out more