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Home of Rest for Horses

 THE HOME OF REST FOR HORSES equine Industry  Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys

Westcroft Stables
Speen Farm
Slad Lane¬ 
Princes Risborough
HP27 0PP
Tel: 01494 488464
Fax: 01494 488767

A Brief History - 1886 to  date

"Over a Century of Loving  Care"

The foundation of The Home of Rest for Horses  was largely due to the efforts of one lady, Miss Ann Lindo, who was appalled at  the treatment of many of the working horses on the streets of London.  She canvassed support and on 10 May 1886, it  was agreed that a home of rest for horses, mules and donkeys should be  started.  The first patient was an  overworked cab horse that Miss Lindo arranged to be cared for at a farm at  Sudbury, near Harrow.

 Subscriptions for the new Society were  canvassed and dinners and balls organised to raise funds.  HRH Prince Albert pledged his support and the  Duke of Portland, Master of the Royal Household, agreed to become  President.  By late 1887 more stabling  had to be found and an eminent London veterinary surgeon allowed his stables at  Neasden Stud Farm to be used.  The  Society was now simply called The Home of Rest for Horses.

 By 1889, The Home had outgrown the facilities  at Sudbury, which was also too far to transport sick and lame horses.  A search for larger premises resulted in  building 40 loose boxes on a leased site at Acton in North London.¬  It was close to the railway station and  horses could easily be transported to and from central London.  The Society was now sufficiently established  to hold a pool of fit, healthy, young horses which were loaned to owners of sick  horses and those whose animals needed rest from their daily toils.

By 1908 the Society had flourished and was able  to buy Westcroft Farm at Cricklewood which, despite only being 4 miles from  Marble Arch, enjoyed 20 acres of good pasture and an impressive range of loose  boxes.

The 1914-1918 war brought forage rationing which  restricted the number of horses that could be cared for.¬  However the Society was able to provide a  fully equipped horse ambulance to help the evacuation of wounded horses from the  front line in France.The Home continued  to be successful and whilst the number of London cab horses declined, there were  still thousands of tradesmens horses requiring help and The Home provided rest  and recuperation for approximately 250 horses a year.

Urban spread soon reached Cricklewood and in  1933 Hampstead Council put Westcroft Farm under a compulsory purchase order for  development.Home to  Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire where a new Westcroft Stables with 75 loose boxes  was built on a 25-acre site. It was at this time that a good and enduring  liaison was established with the London Royal Veterinary College whose Dean, Sir  Frederick Hobday, asserted that The Home of Rest for Horses was the best  premises of its kind in the world. The College supported The Home by providing a  service for poor owners whose animals were sent to The Home for  convalescence.

In 1962 The Home was able to rent an additional  30 acres of land adjacent to Westcroft Stables enabling it to accommodate over  eighty horses at any one time.

By the mid-1960s The Home had become  sufficiently well known and supported to enjoy an income that exceeded running  costs. With a reduction in the number of working horses the Committee decided to  seek new ways of extending The Homes activities rather than using its resources  to expand what it already did. With the blessing of The Charity Commission it  was agreed that grants could be made to other charitable organisations concerned  with the welfare of horses.

By 1968 the relentless urban sprawl of London  had encircled the stables at Boreham Wood and it was necessary to look for new  premises again. The search led to a 130-acre freehold property known as Speen  Farm in the Chilterns midway between High Wycombe and Aylesbury. The sale of the  Boreham Wood site for housing development allowed a new complex, including 85  loose boxes, to be built at Speen Farm.The new Westcroft Stables at Speen Farm were officially opened on 15 July  1975.  The Home is still based at Speen  Farm today and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

¬ A fortunate by-product of the forced sale of  the site at Boreham Wood was a modest profit, which was to become a cornerstone  of The Homes activities over the following 25 years.¬  Wisely invested, this money has produced good  capital growth and healthy dividends, which has progressively enabled The Home  to assume its current position as the leading funder of equine welfare  projects.¬  Since those first modest  grants in 1965, to The Royal Veterinary College and The Animal Health Trust, The  Home has given over £10 million to a wide variety of projects and, at the time  of writing, has on-going commitments of over £4 million.

The Homes support of equine welfare projects  has not been at the expense of The Home itself that continues to function as a  sanctuary for cases of hardship and as a final dignified resting place for a  number of old favourites who, after a lifetime of service provide a living  example to the public of exemplary care and responsible ownership.  As we move into the new Millennium, The Home  can be justifiably proud of its achievements and the way in which it has adapted  to the changing demands of welfare of the horse

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