Who are Hope Pastures?
Hope Pastures is a small charity, based in Leeds, that work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome horses, ponies and donkeys. Staff at the centre are helped by volunteers and they rely on donations to help the equines they rescue. We are proud to support Hope Pastures and name them our charity of the year again.
This week I visited the centre with my daughter to find out more about the animals and the work they do. Centre Manager Leonnie and colleague Suzy met with us and gave us a tour, introducing us to all the horses, ponies and donkeys. We met some of the sweetest ponies, many of which have been through hell and have come out of the other side purely due to the amazing work they do there. I found Hope Pastures to be so calm and very welcoming. It's almost hard to imagine the horrendous lives many of the animals had before arriving at the centre. Some are handed over to Hope Pastures by owners that can no longer care for them. Others have been removed from shocking conditions, one pony was even living behind a pub being fed beer and crisps! Needless to say, he ended up with a host of nutritional problems.
There are also over 100 horses and ponies living off-site, either in their new adoptive homes, or with a foster home, until their forever home can be found. Every horse, pony and donkey gets a second chance at Hope Pastures. Many of them, had they gone elsewhere, wouldn't have been given the opportunity for a new start in life. New equines coming into the centre spend 3 weeks in the quarantine block, where they can be assessed and treated before moving into one of the spacious fields to begin making new friends and start on the road to recovery with a new life.
On the yard they have a stunning memorial wall, remembering all the equines (and the occasional turkey!) who have now gone over Rainbow Bridge. Such a lovely dedication to them.
Meeting the residents
The first pony we met was the adorable Lily. Poking her nose over the top of the stable door she came to say hello. She was quite shy but happy to have her nose tickled by my daughter. Lily has been at the centre for 8 years and came in with a fractured cranium, although it is unclear what actually happened to her. She will not wear a headcollar and has been connection trained so she can be walked to the field on her own. Another timid pony who has been at the centre for 8 years is little Raphael. He is also very sensitive and has been connection trained as well, although sometimes he will wear a headcollar.
Next, we met Dusty. We were warned he can be a little bit nippy, but my daughter was keen to try and give him a stroke anyway. He obliged and was very well behaved! Opposite Dusty was Cherish. A friendly lady who has both laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). She came to the centre as a youngster with her mum, who also had EMS.
We walked up the slope with fields running either side of the path and on the left were several ponies and the 4 donkeys the centre has - all grazing happily in their field. At the top of the path is a field with the larger ponies and horses in it. Among the horses in here we met Alfie. He is absolutely the sweetest pony with a white face and terribly wonky conformation. He has a real wobble when he walks and looks like he's knitting with this front legs! He seems to cope just fine though. Also in this field, we met an older mare who has a displaced knee which seems to have seized in place. This is only her second year at Hope Pastures and she has managed OK during the warmer months with the help of daily Bute. Unfortunately though, with winter and cold weather approaching her future is a little unclear.
To see these horses out in the fields, at first glance you wouldn't know anything was amiss. To learn of their histories and that many of them have had the roughest starts, makes you realise how special these animals are, and what an amazing job everyone at Hope Pastures does to help them.
You can visit too...
The centre is open daily to visitors from 10am to 3pm, so you can go and meet these delightful creatures too. They have a cafe and gift shop as well, so you can make the most of your trip and enjoy a drink and sweet treat while you're there. In the cafe, you'll notice an array of gorgeous knitted ponies. These are hand-crafted by a group of ladies who come to the cafe and the knitted ponies are all looking for loving homes! We have a selection of them in the Selby store now too, so don't forget to look out for them if you are here. Every penny raised through them will go straight back to Hope Pastures.
On Saturday 7th September is the Hope Pastures Grand Summer Show. This is to be held at Harrogate Riding Centre. There are lots of different in-hand and ridden classes and it looks set to be a great day. If you would like more details please head over to the Hope Pastures website.
The centre also runs Pony Days and Birthday parties. These are the perfect treat for any pony mad child and a great way to help raise extra money for the vital work they do at the centre. Again, more information can be found on their website.
How can you help?
If you fancy getting involved, there are lots of ways you can help, from donating money to donating old tack and rugs for them to re-sell. Or you could donate your knitting skills and help make the very popular knitted ponies! There's also the adoptive scheme too. Head over to their website for a full list of ways you can help.