A film crew has spent a day at equine sanctuary The Horse Trust filming part of a documentary on the horses used in World War 1. It is part of a programme that is due to be aired on Channel 4 on the 12th February.
The Horse Trust runs the sanctuary, in Speen, Buckinghamshire, for for rescued and retired working horses, ponies and donkeys, and they also look after retired Army horses.
The programme, which is to be called The Real War Horse, is due to be shown at 9pm on 12th February on Channel Four. It will cover the role and welfare of horses in World War 1, which will be contrasted with the present day use of horses in the military. Almost a million horses fought on the Western Front during the war, yet only about 60,000 returned to Britain, the rest either perished in the war, were sold in France as work horses, or were simply sold to French butchers.
The Real War Horse programme will cover The Horse Trust's role in improving the welfare of horses during the war. The charity, which was then known as The Home of Rest for Horses, provided the first motorised horse ambulance to transport wounded horses in France from the front line during the First World War.
According to the charity's 1916 Annual Report, in two years this ambulance travelled around 13,000 miles and carried in excess of 1,000 injured horses.
The first equine war veteran retired to The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses in 1919 was San Toy (pictured), a horse that had served in both the Boer and First World Wars and was joined by a number of other WWI Veterans including Roger. Roger’s story was truly remarkable. A German Cavalry horse, thought to have been a German Officer’s Charger, Roger was found rider-less on the battlefield during the infamous battle of the Somme by a British Army Officer who caught him, got him to safety and at the end of the war brought him back to England to retire to the Home of Rest.
"The hard work and sacrifice of horses in the Great War is all to easily forgotten, overshadowed by the tragic deaths of nearly a million men of Britain and her Empire on the Western Front. And yet the war could not have been fought without those brave and dependable animals who suffered daily hardships every bit as much as the soldiers they served," said George Pagliero, Director of Testimony Films. "In all that inhumanity there were those who never forgot; those who campaigned tirelessly to raise funds for equine welfare even while the guns were still blazing; terrific work that gave wounded horses a chance of survival in the hell that was the Great War. This work is continued by The Horse Trust to the present day and is something they can rightly be proud of."
The Horse Trust depends on the support of the public to offer retirement to working horses. It costs the charity an average of £12 per day to look after each horse at the sanctuary, which includes the costs of grooms, forage, farriery and veterinary care. To donate to The Horse Trust, please visit www.horsetrust.org.uk
, or contact the charity on 01494 488 464 or [email protected]