Redwings is honoured with National Welfare Award

Redwings Horse Sanctuary is delighted to have been honoured by the British Horse Society for its innovative approach to promoting horse health at Appleby Horse Fair.

Education and Campaigns Manager Andie Vilela and Chief Executive Lynn Cutress were presented with the Welfare Award on Friday 23rd November at the Society’s annual awards ceremony which celebrates individuals and organisations positively impacting the lives of horses and the people who care for them.

For over 10 years, Redwings has been attending the historic Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria, which attracts thousands of Gypsies and Travellers with their horses, for trade and for leisure, every year.

The charity, working alongside other equine welfare organisations, provides a vital service to fair-goers, including veterinary care and advice.

Looking for a way to engage with more fair-goers, Redwings launched the Appleby Welfare Awards in 2015 to celebrate some of the high-quality horses and examples of good horsemanship seen at the Fair.

Winners chosen by the charity’s vets, in categories such as Best Trotter, Best Horse Handler and Best Hoof Health, are presented with rosettes, sponsored by the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association.

Their photos are also shared on social media so their success can be celebrated with their friends, family and other fair-goers. To date, the Appleby Welfare Awards’ social media page has been followed by over 3,700 people.

Last year, winners were invited to take part in a participatory video project where they were filmed sharing their own horse care advice, from the consequences of using inappropriate shoes to avoiding rub wounds, also widely shared on social media.

Andie Vilela, Education and Campaigns Manager (pictured), said: “One of the really powerful aspects of the project has been to give a voice to responsible horse owners within a community not often heard.

“By recognising great examples of equine care and giving fair-goers an opportunity to share their stories with their peers, we hope to encourage more meaningful conversations about welfare, not just between fair-goers, but between fair-goers and charities – such as ourselves – too.

“We know some horse owners are apprehensive about turning to welfare organisations for advice through fear of being judged. By embracing a positive approach through our awards, we’re starting to see this change, for example, our vets are able to provide more preventative health care advice because fair-goers are not as worried about speaking to them.

“This is opening up opportunities for two-way learning as we become more aware of the equine welfare issues they’re particularly concerned about and we can tailor our advice and support to be more relevant to their needs.”

Lynn Cutress, Chief Executive, added: “Making the effort to break down the barriers between different horse-owning communities is so important because when we celebrate our common ground everyone is inspired to do more for horses.

“We’d like to thank the British Horse Society for this wonderful honour, all our staff who have made this project a success and everyone who has supported us, especially our sponsor the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association.”