As always, it was reports from neighbours of horses in bad condition in a very small enclosure in the Valles Oriental that put us on the trail.
We went to confirm this report and seeing the horses so thin, we decided to begin to take them hay , alfalfa and dried food twice a week until we got somewhere with the report we had submitted at the Town Hall.
There were approximately 27 animals – mares, colts, ponies and donkeys.
It was the first time we had seized so many horses and we were so keen to feed them and look after them that, at the time, we forgot to take photographs.
Their owner did not seem to be in control. Outside the enclosure there were bales of straw and he had harvested fresh grass from nearby fields that later he piled in front of the fence…. without giving it to the animals, it rained…. the grass fermented and rotted.
At last the order to enable us to seize the animals was given.
As it was impossible to put all the animals in the Refuge, we rented a field from a man in a neighbouring village and the day before the seizure, we surrounded the field with an electric fence to try to stop the horses from escaping. At that time we didn’t know if the animals would respect the electric fence, as they had never been in this type of enclosure.
Irma and Josep Lluis taking care of AROUM
We had also arranged that the same day, once the animals were there, that everyone on our list who wanted to adopt would come to choose the horse or horses they were interested in and to take them directly to their new homes. It was impossible to check these new homes beforehand. We would have to do so afterwards. We didn’t want to leave the horses there all night…. they were very near the place where they had been seized and in villages news travels fast.
It was exhausting work .It took four days of 12-14 hours uninterrupted work to organize getting the people who wanted to adopt, installing the electric fence, collecting the animals and the later adoptions.
Improvisation, willingness and a lot of dedication characterized these days.
"CHIARA" Four months pregnant
The day of the seizure we found ourselves with 30 equines, among them a one week old colt.
They were totally wild animals that had never been touched or stroked by anybody. They wouldn’t let us get anywhere near them.
To defend themselves they all stayed together … or they started to run, jumping over bushes and anything else in their path. 4 or 5 of them escaped in a moment of distraction by the person in charge of the gate that we used to get them out.
After a while they came back to be with the rest of the herd.
Even though there were so many of us it was a real effort to get them all into the lorries.
What a busy morning! We ran around without achieving anything, and the owner arrived and threatened us and we had to take refuge with the men from the Civil Protection who were totally dedicated to helping us…. and then we had to carry on trying to get head collars on these horses who didn’t understand that we wanted to take them to a better place.
Finally we took the remaining ones in a group and we were able to get them into the lorry by placing the police cars at the side of the ramp so that the horses couldn’t escape.
"ADA and LINCE" ( one week old)
From there we all went to the field that we had prepared in the nearby village.
The people who had come to adopt chose which animal they wanted, we filled in the contracts, controlled the situation as well as we could and little by little the horses left, if we were able to catch them…. because there was a colt which everyone wanted, but nobody could catch. Two or three times we saw a young man “skiing” between branches, pulled along by this wild colt.
At the end of the day there were only seven small colts (one of them seriously deformed) and two ponies which had not been adopted. They spent the night there, as the Lorries had to leave.
"CALITJA" THE FOAL, AND HER DEFORMED HIND LEG