The Andalusian Rescue Centre for Horses (ARCH) is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month. Founded in 2009 by president Jill Newman Rogers and a group of horse-loving friends, the charity has since rescued, cared for and re-homed more than 300 horses and donkeys.
Situated on the outskirts of Alhaurín el Grande, the charity works with the Spanish animal protection authorities to combat the ongoing problem of abuse and neglect. It also works closely with the legal team that supports the Refugio del Burrito donkey sanctuary, as many of the rescues involve long and complicated court cases.
The rescue centre is staffed by a band of dedicated volunteers. Some have extensive experience in the horse world, while others are people who simply love animals and offer help in the stables and with fundraising projects.
The volunteers care for as many as 15 animals at any given time and their only reward comes from bringing the animals back to health and finding them loving homes.
There is also an enthusiastic team that runs the ARCH charity shop in Alhaurín el Grande, and their efforts provide much-needed finances for the horses and donkeys in the charity's care.
Jill Newman Rogers explained that the work is a "continuous uphill and often heartbreaking struggle".
"We help them because they have no voice of their own. Some of the cases we are asked to help are victims of unbelievable cruelty: horses that have gone blind through being kept in dark and restricted conditions; others with hooves grown so long they can't walk; neglected injuries which have resulted in severe physical damage; and emotional abuse that has made the animal traumatised and untrusting of humans," Jill explained to SUR in English.
The charity's welfare project relies on the support of animal lovers across the globe, and the local community and businesses; it is with this help that it is able to continue to provide relief to abused horses.
Once the animals are fit and healthy, ARCH then offers them to "forever homes" or for fostering. The charity also offers help and advice on obtaining a permit from the Junta de Andalucía that allows potential owners to keep horses on their land, while those adopting from outside Spain will receive assistance with the necessary paperwork and recommendations of specialised transportation services.
"Adopters are carefully chosen and given continual support. Should an adoption not work out for any reason, then the animal comes back to ARCH. Sadly, some rescues don't make it but at least their last days are filled with love and affection," the president said.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, ARCH has organised a special open day with live music, a fun dog show and barbecue, which will be held at the rescue centre on Easter Saturday (20 April).
The charity is also appearing on the Channel 5 reality TV series, Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun. A film crew visited the Costa del Sol last summer to make a feature about ARCH and the episodes will be shown on Thursday 31 January and Thursday 14 February.