A “desperately weak” emaciated foal, who would not have survived had she not been rescued, has undergone a “stunning” transformation during lockdown.
Matilda was transported to Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s quarantine centre, with support from the RSPCA and the police, in March, after attempts to contact her alleged owner failed.
A spokesman for the charity said the “desperately weak” filly, who was five months old, had been discovered in a field near Diss, south Norfolk, severely underweight with a body condition score of 0.5 out of 5.
“Without immediate help it was clear she would not survive,” he said.
Redwings’ vet Nicola Berryman, who transported Matilda with the charity’s senior field officer Julie Harding, said as well as a prolific lice infestation, worms and emaciation, Matilda had very low protein levels in her blood and was anaemic.
“We started treating her cautiously with a wormer, and steroids to reduce any gut inflammation caused by the worm burden, and then with a careful feeding plan we were able to help her safely put on weight,” she said.
“Matilda is sadly a classic example of ponies we often see in our welfare work. The way she turned the corner quite quickly shows that if her owner had just given her the basic care she needed, such as worming, feeding and feet trimming, then she would never have got into the suffering state that she was in.”
Matilda is almost back to a healthy weight and has been transferred to Redwings’ headquarters, home to the charity’s hospital, in Hapton, south Norfolk, where she can still be monitored closely by the vet team.
The spokesman said Matilda has been befriended by an older pony, Mildred, who often acts as a foster mum to rescued youngsters.
Article continued below…
‘We honestly thought she may never leave the hospital as that was the only way we could keep on top
The “mane event” is an imaginative fundraising challenge
“Thanks to Mildred’s nurturing, Matilda is now slowly being integrated into a herd of other young ponies,” he said.
“The Matilda who went into the lockdown is almost unrecognisable from the one that’s now leaving it,” added Nicola.
“As well as looking very different, she’s really coming into her own character. When she first arrived, she was very sad, showed no personality and didn’t want to interact with us at all. Now she’s starting to display quite a curious, cheeky side which is great to see.”
We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.