An animal rescue charity has announced the birth of the first foal from a group of 'smuggled' horses rescued on their way to a European slaughterhouse. 

World Horse Welfare’s Norfolk Rescue and Rehoming Centre based at Hall Farm in Snetterton has welcomed its first newborn from one of five pregnant mares. 

Brown and white rescue mare Daisy gave birth to the healthy foal on Friday. 

Eastern Daily Press: Six-year-old Daisy gave birth to Pompey Six-year-old Daisy gave birth to Pompey (Image: World Horse Welfare)

Six-year-old Daisy is one of the 'Dover 26' – a group of horses and ponies intercepted by port officials from being illegally smuggled into Europe. 

Her male foal has been named Pompey, after the British port of Portsmouth, to highlight the charity’s efforts to stop the illicit trade of horses in and out of the country.    

Holly Roe, senior groom at Hall Farm, said: "Pompey is a bundle of joy. It fills my heart to see them relaxed and happy here now, with a secure future ahead of them.

"While they will remain in our ownership for the rest of their lives, our aim is for them to find loving new homes - although it will be months before Pompey is weaned.

"Such a different outcome and I can’t bear to think about what their future might have been." 

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Elderly animals, pregnant mares and frightened youngsters were discovered in the overcrowded vehicle during the smuggling, with many unfit for their journey and seven of the group undeclared to officials. 

Nine of the horses were bought at an auction in the north west of England just a week before being discovered at Dover. 

Animals caught in the illegal trade in horses are transported for days without rest in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. 

Many suffer from a lack of basic necessities such as food and water, endure rough handling and are exposed to increased risks of disease and injury.