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Bright future for orphaned foal after traumatic start to life

An orphaned foal has a bright future despite a difficult start in life.

Colt Icon arrived at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary this year with his 27-year-old dam Ice.

The pair were part of a multi-agency rescue, which was led by the RSPCA, after an elderly owner had allowed more than 70 horses and ponies to breed indiscriminately.

Upon arrival at the Devon-based equine welfare charity, it was immediately apparent Ice was struggling with lameness and arthritis. Blood tests revealed she was fighting numerous infections and her liver was failing.

The charity was faced with a very difficult decision.

“We knew the best thing for Icon was to have his mum around for as long as possible, but we couldn’t do that at the expense of Ice’s wellbeing,” said sanctuary director of equine research, Syra Bowden. “She was too old to have a foal and she had not been receiving the right nutrients or care through her pregnancy.

“When she arrived at the sanctuary, we knew she was lame, but we wanted to find out the extent of her issues. We gave her pain killers, supplements and several blood tests before devising a care plan with our vet.

“Her condition and behaviour were closely monitored. She was a great mum and we gave her the best care we could in those last few weeks.”

The sanctuary’s vet Richard Frost was assessing her condition and made sure Ice was comfortable and pain-free, allowing Icon time with his dam.

The charity was prepared for any changes in Ice’s condition, and subsequent reassessment of her care.

Ice and Icon were able to spend the summer in one of the charity’s paddocks, bonding and benefiting from the staff’s care.

But as Icon grew Ice’s condition began to deteriorate and the decision was taken to put her down. The charity planned the day to cause as little distress to the pair as possible.

“As soon as it was over Icon was able to see his mother’s body, sniff her and grieve in his own time to allow a level of acceptance,” added a charity spokesman.

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“He was given as much time as he needed with her body before being allowed to join a small herd of colts who had been placed in the neighbouring field – and before long he was galloping round, making new friends.”

Icon has proved to be an “independent and laid-back” colt, who has become a firm favourite with the sanctuary’s grooms.

Groom Leah Brock said he was enjoying growing up with his new field mates Ovie and Tinkerman.

“He’s so calm and easy to be around,” she said. “And watching him playing with his new friends is great to see. He really seems to enjoy everything he does.”

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