Starving pony battles for survival

  • A pony found emaciated and abandoned on a road is making progress since being taken in by a charity.

    “Duchess”, a 13.1hh piebald mare, was found on the B3080 at Turf Hill in Hale, Hampshire.

    The Verderers of the New Forest, who work to protect the area, called the Horse Trust for help.

    Unlike many rescue cases, Duchess was microchipped, but this revealed no details other than her name and approximate age of four.

    “Duchess’ body condition was poor, scored at 1.5 on a scale of 5,” said a Horse Trust spokesman.

    “Underweight and extremely lethargic she arrived at the Horse Trust on 14 September weighing just under 300kg, emaciated, dehydrated and suffering from internal and external parasites which are now being treated.”

    The spokesman added that it is “clear” Duchess was a domestic rather than a semi-feral native pony.

    Initial blood tests showed she had significant liver damage, which is believed to be a result of eating toxic plants while scavenging.

    “Duchess is not a unique case — sadly there has been an alarming increase in the number of horses being abandoned across the UK,” said Jeanette Allen, chief executive of the charity.

    “In her condition Duchess has little commercial value and unfortunately this means more and more horses like her are being abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

    “Duchess is just one of many victims of the national equine welfare crisis.”

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    The mare, who also has a problem with her off hind and pelvis, has been put on a carefully controlled diet and has gained a “very small” amount of weight. She is being monitored “around the clock” by the Horse Trust’s equine team and vet.

    The spokesman added the team will do “everything possible to help Duchess win her battle for survival”.

    “It is uncertain what the future holds for Duchess, or if indeed there will be a future for her, only time and tests will tell,” he said.

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