Most people were recovering from their Christmas holiday when our staff were called in to deal with one of the worst welfare cases we’ve seen in a decade.
The pony was dangerously thin. It was clear that physically he would not last much longer, but right from the start he had a fighting spirit. Our stable team renamed him Victor.
He had a body condition score of 1 out of 5 on arrival. He could not eat large feeds so was given many small feeds throughout the day. The vet could not establish if he was so underweight due to not being fed sufficiently, worms or disease. He found alopecia (coat loss) and lice. This poor pony could not physically manage growing a coat - any nutrition was being used just to keep his internal organs. He was barely alive.
There was no record of worming or vaccination, so Victor was given a 5 day wormer. He was treated for his louse infestation and started with many small feeds throughout the day. Staff tended him frequently throughout the early days, tempting him with small meals, ensuring he was kept warm and providing company.
This meant a thorough disinfection each time a member of staff had been to see him as he was still in isolation!
Having lost fat from around his internal organs, our new friend may have organ damage. This fat has to be replaced before he can start to develop his muscles again. Added to this he’s became quite a feisty little guy, always with something to say, nosying and generally getting up to mischief – burning off the precious calories that we are trying to get into him!
When he became well enough he was gradually allowed to go out and play in the fields with the other horses - always well wrapped up in rugs as he still didn't have enough body fat for natural insulation against the elements. His weight gain was so slow that it was sometimes necessary to refer to photographs to be sure that he was improving. But gradually, through the gentle free exercise in the fields, he started to gain muscle on his neck and his rump..
He has had significant dental work to ensure that he can chew his food comfortably and make the most of the nutrition in it. He is bright, happy and definitely a cheeky pony once again.
Victor’s treatment programme is ongoing. He has deeply touched everyone who works at the Sanctuary.Can you find it in your heart to support his recovery and make a donation towards his veterinary bills?
We will update you with his progress, and his latest adventures, through Facebook.
All the stable team help to support and care for Victor, but one is especially devoted to him. Angela Birnie Williams lives close to the Sanctuary on a small holding where she keeps her own horses, goats and chickens. She also has two donkeys, Jock and Scottie, which she re-homed from the Sanctuary.. This is her personal story of Victor’s journey so far.
Oh, he was pitiful when he came in. You could feel every bone in his neck and spine, his legs were like matchsticks and when you lifted his tail, all you could see was skin and bone. His thigh bones were sticking out, and he had big wounds on his thighs and back, probably from lying on concrete. He needed wrapping in rugs, and three bales of straw to make a bed thick enough to support him with those dreadful wounds and give him some respite from the pain.
He was covered in lice and near death. I’ve had horses all my life and never seen anything like he was then. He’s the pluckiest pony I know and so endearing. When he’s out in the field he always comes running when called, he knows it’s tea time. He’s allowed out now but only with a special new rug.
He pretends to be grumpy – and who can blame him after what he’s been through? But you can do anything with him, really. I started to call him Victor Meldrew, my colleague Jackie calls him Golden Child. If he regains full health I’m going to offer to re-home him. Honestly, I don’t think I could bear to be parted from him.