A vet and breeder who lost a Clydesdale colt after he was fed by passers-by, and has since lost his pregnant mother, says her breeding programme is “back to square one” and the issue of feeding horses needs to be highlighted.
South Lanarkshire-based Jennifer Spiers’ 11-month colt Kintra Oran Mhor developed impaction colic in spring last year while she was away on her honeymoon.
Jennifer told H&H a family member called to say the colt, known as Finn, was unwell and a vet attended.
“His condition worsened dramatically and the decision was made to put him to sleep,” she said. “It was made even harder because I was on the other side of the world and couldn’t do anything about it.
“The field he was in was fenced off with an electric fence but people still throw things in. Whole loaves of bread still in the packets were found, along with crisps, custard creams and other biscuits.”
Jennifer said the problem of people feeding the horses continued during lockdown with up to 200 people passing by every day.
“The horses were having to be constantly monitored. We have multiple signs up, and electric fencing to keep the horses away from the gate, but some days we found people in the field,” she said.
“Clydesdales are such friendly horses, they’ll speak to people, especially if someone is feeding them.”
On 29 December, Jennifer’s six-year-old Royal Highland prize-winning mare Malcolmwood Lady Muck, Finn’s dam, was found dead in the field.
“I went to check on the mares in the field and she wasn’t with the other two. I went to look for her and found her passed away,” she said.
“She was in foal and due in April, it’s just devastating. We are waiting for blood work and toxicology reports to confirm but I think this happened because she has been fed something. She was normal the night before, showed no signs of illness and had been in good health.”
Jennifer, who found multiple chocolate bar wrappers on the other side of the field gate that day, said the loss has “not fully hit home”.
“I’m absolutely devastated. I had such big plans for Mucky – she was a very placid mare, she just had this presence that made you feel calm,” she said.
Article continued below…
“The public feeding horses has become a daily problem here; it’s not just carrots and apples, it’s grass cuttings and
“Lightning gave me the impetus to get out of my wheelchair and walk again. I will always walk with a
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
“We try to breed a foal every year and this loss has put our breeding programme back to square one. Clydesdales have so few breeding females in the UK compared to other breeds. It’s extremely difficult to breed from them, and this has been a massive blow.”
Jennifer said she worries for her other horses in the field and plans to put more signs up.
“I don’t know why people think it’s ok to feed other people‘s horses and I don’t know how you can police it. When I see people passing the field I try speaking to them to explain what’s been happening and educate people but this issue really needs to be highlighted and I hope we can make a difference,” she said.
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.