A pregnant mare found in a “pitiful” state of emaciation has given birth to a healthy foal, thanks to the Blue Cross.

The equine charity said Cinderella, an “elderly” part-thoroughbred found in a group of fly-grazed horses, was “one of the worst welfare cases the charity had ever seen”.

A spokesman added: “Cinderella was in such a terrible state that the attending vet advised the RSPCA to seize her immediately to try and save her life.

“With a body condition score of just 0.5, on a scale rating 1 as emaciated and 5 as obese, nearly every bone was protruding from Cinderella’s frail body.

Her skin was dehydrated and covered with scabs and she was using the meagre nutrients she had to keep her unborn foal alive. She was rushed to Blue Cross Burford for emergency care.”

Cinderella at rescue

Blue Cross Burford horse manager Vicki Alford said: “I have worked in welfare for more than 10 years and have witnessed so many tragic sights but I have never seen a horse in such a pitiful state as this.

“Thankfully her foal was wriggling and kicking so we knew we had a chance to save them both, albeit a slim one.”

Cinderella was given a big stable and hay.

She was “carefully introduced to small amounts of concentrated feed” and her condition slowly improved.

Two weeks before she foaled, Cinderella had a setback when she developed plancentisis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the placenta.

The mare and foal were at “serious risk” but thanks to veterinary attention and a course of antibiotics, the problem was solved.

Cinders and foal posing

On 14 May she produced a healthy skewbald filly foal who staff have named Princess.

“We were all ecstatic,’’ said Vicki.  “I have helped with many foalings but I have never worried as much as on this occasion.

“We all willed her to get through it safely and thankfully she did. She is an incredibly resilient mare.”


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Cinderella retained the placenta but recovered and is “proving to be a wonderful mother”.

The Blue Cross spokesman added: “Princess is getting bigger and stronger every day, to the joy of all the Blue Cross staff who worked around the clock to ensure her survival.

The charity will be looking for an experienced new home for the pair shortly.

For information on rehoming a Blue Cross equine, or to make a donation, visit its website.