NFF Equestrian Buildings were contacted by Lea Sands earlier in the year, with a special request to build a bespoke shelter for her ever-growing draught horse, Warwick.
High & Mighty
Warwick is a full-bred shire, currently measuring 20hh and still growing. He is awaiting his official measurements as the vet doesn’t currently have a measuring stick big enough!! He is 6 years old but can continue growth until he’s around 9 years old.
Lea is hoping he’s more or less finished with height now as he really needs to fill-out outwards rather than upwards, but potentially he could still grow a little taller and is on target to becoming the largest horse in the UK currently, so the shelter had to be made to a bespoke height, depth and aperture to allow safe head clearance and turning area. He weighs approx. 850kg.
Finding the Right Fit
After having no joy with several other equestrian timber building companies, NFF Equestrian Buildings were more than happy to accept the challenge of building, what Lea has now nicknamed, “Warwick’s Castle”.
The bespoke shelter was especially designed by NFF Equestrian to accommodate his size and strength incorporating upgraded framework, upgraded steel skids with upstands for rigidity and timbers with an increased head clearance of approx. 9’, an increased ‘opening’ size, and a number of open windows to help with airflow and Warwick’s ‘claustrophobia’.
A New Beginning
Lea already has her hands full running her own business with her daughter, Bethany, called Holiday Horses, offering local holiday care for horses and other four-legged friends around her home in Kent, but Lea had always had a love of Shire horses which she shared with her mum. When Lea learned through a friend earlier this year, that Warwick was looking for a new home, she expressed an interest in taking him on. Although the home he was in, was a loving home, the owner didn’t really have the knowledge, ability or understanding on how to meet all his needs. Lea explained that Warwick was being unknowingly under-fed and kept in a space unsuitable and inhibiting for his proportions which has had a knock-on effect of his growth development, combined with a lack of boundaries due to his intimidating size he was basically behaving like a spoilt child! He’s a very big lad, and Lea told us, if he decides he wants to go in a particular direction, then he is going there whether you like it or not and any resistance would mean you are probably going there too!
Because Warwick’s previous stabling was too small, with low beams and little turning space, he hadn’t had a lot of freedom so besides having developed health issues with growth, and being very underweight, he also had become fearful of enclosed spaces. He has never been ridden or even had a rug placed on him prior to coming to Lea, so these are all things that they have been working to overcome.
Warwick is now on a special diet to help him put on weight and build muscle and Lea has also enlisted the help of a ‘horse whisperer’ to practice natural horsemanship with him which has given him confidence and taught him some essential etiquette.
This has made a huge difference so far, and he is becoming increasingly more manageable, less stressed in unfamiliar situations and much calmer in general.
Making New Friends
Although Warwick can still be a little nervous and jumpy at times, (and pretty clumsy too) he has a very gentle personality and loves attention…and polos! Unfortunately, although Warwick would love to be friends with all of Lea’s other equine residents, most of them find his immense size just too intimidating. Luckily, he does have one brave friend, Maggie, who is not fazed by his stature and just adores him. We asked Lea if he has any funny peculiarities she would like to share. Lea divulged that he has quite a few quirks including playing with his treat ball and space hopper but one that stands out is that although he won’t let you go near him with a hosepipe for bathing purposes, if you are using the hose to fill up his water trough, he will steal the hose pipe from you and run off with it!
Part of the Community
We enquired what Lea’s plans were for Warwick’s working life going forward, Lea explained that she is hoping he will eventually become a community horse, helping to reach places that can’t easily be reached by road or on foot, to bring perhaps aid or care to and also to educate people about the importance of slowing down when passing and in general about a horse's place in the countryside.
NFF Equestrian Buildings (NFF Ltd) can be contacted on 01435 811616 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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