DENNIS – the intuitive horse.
Heroes, as we know, are often unassuming… they step in and save the day without fuss and glory, and make us realise their value and true worth. Our Hero Horse number 11 is Dennis, who has been nominated by Eleanor Stourton, Relationship Officer at Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare,
The Broyle, Ringmer in East Sussex. Here, she tells us why..
Born in 1998, Irish draught cross Dennis came to Raystede in 2017. He had belonged to the same owner almost his entire life but developed the debilitating condition navicular as he got older which caused him to be plagued with lameness problems. His devoted owner then had a very premature baby and the combination of the level of care Dennis needed and the huge emotional and practical demands of the baby meant his owner turned to us for help.
This gentle giant was an immediate hit with visitors and staff; although he doesn’t always know his own size and strength he loves people and can often be seen grazing near the fence just in case anyone is wandering past and might be persuaded to give him some attention. His gorgeous, striking chestnut coat and height means he always attracts attention although he is not averse to having a good roll in the mud when the mood takes him!
However, it turned out there was a lot more to Dennis than good looks being a cuddle monster. Ben, a 14-year-old welsh cross had come to Raystede when his sight started to deteriorate due to the condition Moon Blindness. He is the second equine we have in our care with this disability; Saul, an elderly Exmoor pony also suffers with it. Ben had been at Raystede for some years when Dennis arrived and was paired up with his ‘eyes’, a big black horse called Morgan. If Ben had Morgan by his side, he could confidently navigate his familiar field and enjoy a full and happy life at the centre.
Tragically, in early 2018, Morgan passed away. Quite apart from the terrible loss of Morgan, the team were incredibly worried about how Ben would cope without his best friend and guide and if it might mean we would have to lose him to if the distress was too great. With our hearts in our mouths, we watched to see if Dennis might take on the role Morgan had previously fulfilled and become Ben’s new eyes.
As if he knew how crucial it was, Dennis seemed to understand exactly what was expected of him and stepped up to the role. The two are now inseparable and Ben feels confident and secure knowing he has Dennis to guide him through life.
Raystede is a rescue centre and sanctuary based in East Sussex, open to the public year-round. As well as horses like Dennis and Ben, we care for a huge variety of animals on site including cats, dogs, small animals and exotic birds. On average we care for over 2,000 animals a year from hens to rabbits. Traditionally, equines have stayed with us for life at the centre but in order to be able to rescue more animals, we now run a loan scheme for horses, donkeys and ponies. For more information, check us out at www.raystede.org