Helping little hooves get back on their happy feet in Chorley

Caroline Howarth at The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre in Banks
Caroline Howarth at The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre in Banks

When little Henry the pony needed treatment for severe liver problems, the community dug deep in their pockets to ensure he got the help he needed.

The six-year-old is now happy and healthy and blissfully unaware he has created a new legacy – through Henry’s Helping Hoof Charity (HHHC).

Alex Harris at The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre in Banks

Alex Harris at The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre in Banks

The organisation was set up by Caroline Howarth and Alex Harris, both of Coppull, in 2013, to help other sick, neglected or abused horses and ponies through The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre based at Banks, near Southport.

Caroline, 46, says: “We got Henry when he was six months old. When he was two years old, he became ill as he had something wrong with his liver.

“He was insured, but his vets bills accumulated. So we did a fancy dress sponsored walk and raised £1,300 for a full investigation at Leahurst Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He made a full recovery, but only with the help of many donors and supporters, including Leahurst themselves.

“Henry captured the hearts of everyone involved and inspired the creation of the charity to help other sick or endangered, neglected or abused horses and ponies.

The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre - Henry is the small white pony

The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre - Henry is the small white pony

“Everyone was so kind, so Alex and I decided to set up a charity and give something back to help other people in the same boat as us.

“So we continued to raise funds for other needy causes.

“The charity achieved registered status in 2014, and obtained premises for its own rescue centre, called The ARC Equestrian Rescue Centre. Since then the charity has helped and rehomed dozens of equines, from all over the country. There are currently 25 horses in the centre in various stages of re-hab. Some sadly will never be able to be rehomed and are likely to stay as sanctuary horses.”

Although Caroline has always had a love for horses, her active pursuit for the hobby came about after a near-death experience.

She says: “When I had my daughter 13 years ago I was really poorly and my family nearly lost me. After that I decided life was too short and I should do more things. I used to ride horses when I was younger and I wanted to pick that up again, so I bought a horse. A few years later we got Henry, who is a miniature horse.”

The organisation relies on the support of the committee and volunteers who dedicate their time to managing the horses, as well as attending to welfare calls from concerned members of the public.

Caroline, who also works as a nurse at Royal Preston Hospital, adds: “Fund-raising is the most challenging but often rewarding part of the operation, and in 2015 the ARC Equestrian Centre started a series of horse shows in Lancashire to assist with the fund-raising activities.

“The shows have grown and grown, and we now have a loyal following from horse enthusiasts in the local area, and some from further afield.

“This year we have decided to diversify a little more with the introduction of a two-day country fair, which takes place at Charity Farm in Wrightington this weekend.”

The large event includes guest appearances from Coronation Street actress Tisha Merry, from Leyland, Anthony Quinlan (Pete Barton from Emmerdale) and Kieron Richardson (Ste Hay from Hollyoaks).

The main arena will host displays and music throughout the day, including Stannage Stunt Team, Ridgeside Falconry, dog agility displays, extreme mountain biking, a drey horse parade, and Mighty Smith Strong Man.

There will also be craft and trade stalls, games including zorbing, crazy golf, laser clay pigeon shooting, archery, a fun fair, plus a large selection of food and drink on sale. Gates open at 10am on Saturday and Sunday July 29 and 30, at Charity Farm, Smithy Brow, Wrightington. Entry is £7 for adults, £3.50 for concessions and a family ticket is £18.