Hooves and Tails was founded in 2017 by a husband and wife team, Isabel and Chris. It all began when Isabel wanted to rescue a couple of small farm animals. She reached out to one of the landowners and asked if they would be willing to let her keep rescue animals on their land. To her surprise, the landowner gave permission as there was already a flock of sheep in one of the fields that could be used to keep rescue animals. The arrival of two sibling rescue goats, Leyla and Larry, in the field was the beginning of Hooves and Tails today.
There were already 15 Shetland sheep in the field, brought in 2016 and left unattended by someone else. The goats shared the same field as the flock. Unfortunately, the sheep were neglected. Some died due to lack of care from fly strike, various bacterial diseases and infections, and lameness. In the winter months, they had no hay and suffered extreme malnutrition, losing a lot of weight. The following spring, the ewes gave birth to more lambs, and the flock grew in size to 30. Again, some of the lambs died due to negligence. By the spring of 2018, the flock size had increased to 55, and they were still neglected and suffering from easily treatable diseases or illnesses. They were not sheared and were covered in maggots, eventually dying or never had their hooves trimmed, to the point most of them developed foot rot, in pain and unable to walk.
It was heartbreaking to witness the suffering of these innocent animals, and we couldn’t do much to help as we were not the owners of the sheep. But we couldn't allow the animals to suffer anymore and wanted to do something about it. We reached out to the owner and asked if they would let us care for the animals to prevent further suffering. Unfortunately, the owner wanted money and said they would sell the sheep if we paid them the going market rate. We were also incredibly lucky that the landowner agreed to us rescuing the sheep and continue to use the field, allowing us to create a sanctuary for these animals to be cared for and thrive in. The landowner has also donated a large animal shelter to start us off in providing suitable housing.
By the summer of 2018, we had successfully negotiated and agreed to the transfer of the flock into our care. We immediately engaged the services of vets, and they were all treated immediately, vaccinated, and rams castrated to prevent further births, as the land we had access to couldn't sustain any more animals. We built shelters, secured fencing, and created an environment for the animals, giving them the care and attention they deserve.
Over the years, our rescued animals have been a great source of enjoyment for the local community, especially for families with children. During lockdown, we allowed safe and supervised interaction and visiting opportunities for the public. In addition, we had many requests to volunteer to support our work. School aged children wanted to gain work experience, and some even completed Duke of Edinburgh placements. We also had offers from members of the public wanting to sponsor or contribute towards the care of the animals. We had churches inviting our animals to participate in animal blessing services, which was a great experience for the local community to interact with animals in a different setting. To continue to provide a public benefit, and to do more for the animals in our care, we founded Hooves and Tails, a not-for-profit, all volunteer run sanctuary.