Abandoned foal receiving ‘unconditional love’ as he fights for his life

  • An emaciated abandoned foal found wandering the streets is receiving the “best possible care” and “unconditional love” as he fights for his life in the care of a welfare charity.

    Last month members of the public discovered the six-month-old foal alone in Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, and contacted the Horse Trust.

    A spokesman for the charity said the foal, named Dobby by his rescuers, was found “confused” and “wobbly on his feet”.

    “He nearly collapsed several times as he was so weak — goodness knows how long this poor little mite had been roaming without a mother, and with nowhere to turn,” he said.

    “We had to save this poor foal’s life and after a thorough investigation and trying, but failing, to locate his owners, we knew we had to take him home to the Horse Trust and nurse him back to health. We knew that without immediate intervention, this poor, terrified foal would not survive the night.”

    Dobby, who had a body score of one out of five, was “extremely wary” of people and the team struggled to get near him.

    “Our patient and understanding head groom Claire lay by his side for 45 minutes until she was able to touch him. Meanwhile our multi-disciplinary team arrived onsite, including vet Nicky Housby-Skeggs and behaviourist Charlotte Launder,” he said.

    “Our team used a careful herding technique to move the foal on to the horsebox. This technique reduces stress as it works alongside their instincts. Using skills like this means we can ensure that a flight response isn’t triggered, and no further distress is caused. This is extremely important while working in open environments, particularly those at the roadside as he could have ended up back in severe danger.”

    The spokesman said it was immediately clear Dobby was in a “terrible” state.

    “His headcollar was so tight it had rubbed his hair down to the skin, obviously causing him a huge amount of pain. His rug was so tight and tangled that it had caused huge, painful sores – the only way we could remove it was to cut it off,” he said.

    “Dobby arrived at the safety of the Horse Trust, his new home. Sadly, the danger was far from over and his life was still at risk. Nicky administered immediate veterinary care; he was severely dehydrated and in desperate need of fluids and wet hay to rehydrate him. He was also riddled with lice and worms so was treated for both on arrival.”

    Foal rescued Buckinghamshire

    The spokesman said investigations revealed Dobby’s albumin (protein) levels were “dangerously low” and he was given an emergency plasma transfusion, which cost more than £1,000.

    “He was exhausted and struggled to get back up once he lay down, but he was safe for the first time in his young life,” he said.

    “Nicky has since taken blood samples to see how the stress and abandonment have affected him and to help guide any potential treatment plan. Right now, he is receiving the best possible care and unconditional love from the whole team.”

    The Horse Trust’s director of training Charlotte Launder told H&H when Dobby first arrived he was “listless, forlorn, and had clearly been neglected for some time”.

    “He was a far cry from how a foal should look and act at his age,” she said. “We continue to provide him with round the clock intensive care as well as starting behavioural training sessions to help him learn to trust people again.

    “He has captured the hearts of everyone here – he is a very sweet-natured and gentle foal and the thought that anyone could abandon him is just appalling”.

    Continued below…

    Dobby will remain in the care of the Horse Trust, which today celebrates its 135th birthday.

    “The Horse Trust has been there for horses in need since 10 May 1886, but with the coronavirus pandemic still raging on it is putting us under severe strain,” said the spokesman.

    “We are calling on horse lovers everywhere to help us nurse Dobby back to health and keep our doors open to horses in need now and for ever.”

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