Friday, February 23, 2007

Tony Poucher is feeling a little hoarse

"It’s all the shouting I was doing at yesterday’s fundraiser," revealed Tony Poucher, manager at the Equine Home of Rest. Tucked away in the secluded hamlet of Stross Gables, the home has been a sanctuary for abused, mistreated and unloved horses, ponies and donkeys for over 20 years.

The 35 current residents receive hands-on attention from volunteer helpers who gladly spend most of their spare time giving the animals the love they’ve hitherto missed out on. “They definitely respond to all the stroking and touching,” said Deborah Zickmüncher, a regular helper at the home. “Trojan is my favourite. He’s massive, the biggest here. Each morning when me and the other girls turn up, he is desperate to get his oats.”

“All the team here bend over backwards for these beasts,” acknowledged Tony. “Helping out is often about blood, sweat and tears. It takes a special kind of person to do what we do. Flexibility is critical, as some days we’re here at the home, other days we take a couple of the animals to farm shows to raise funds.”

Despite these regular events and welcome donations received from visitors, the future at the Equine Home of Rest is not certain. Jules Misdrinker, willing helper and keen horsewoman, had in the past offered up her sizeable box to residents of the home, but changes in insurance and HSE legislation now make this impossible. “Without transport, we can’t get the horses to the public, which has a big impact on our funding,” explained Jules. “I used to easily accommodate a couple of young colts in my box. The other girls and I always prefer to take a big one if possible, although I’ve never managed more than 18 hands.”

But all is not lost. Victor Loleshole, a Pranker’s Wycke wildlife conservationist, has promised the home some local authority funding. So it looks like they will be getting that much needed transportation after all.

“Do come and visit us, it’s a great family day out. With your entry fees and donations we can continue to provide a safe haven for these dear creatures, a place where they can live out their days in peace,” said Tony disappearing into the cold February night to cover his mares.

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