A foal born at a welfare sanctuary whose survival was touch-and-go has become the 1,000th horse the charity has helped.
The filly was born to rescue mare Fuzzy Bear at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary on 30 April but soon started to show signs of colic — swishing her tail and being restless and agitated.
Staff called the sanctuary’s vet Richard Frost as her condition began to deteriorate.
“When I examined the foal, she was bright and still interested in suckling, but the signs were starting to get worse,” he said. “The retention of meconium — the foal’s first sticky droppings — is the most common cause of colic in newborn foals, so we started treatment and she responded well.
“Unfortunately, the following day she started showing similar signs again which made meconium retention less likely to be the cause of her abdominal pain. Foals can deteriorate into life-threatening situations very quickly, so we made the decision to refer her for further investigation. ”
The foal and her dam were taken to Western Counties Equine Hospital, where she spent five days in intensive care. Investigations revealed that the source of the filly’s pain was a spasm of her urethra that was preventing her from emptying her bladder.
“A catheter was placed to allow her to urinate freely and she was monitored carefully over the next few days,” Richard said. “Once the catheter was removed and it was clear that the foal could urinate normally, they were allowed to return to the sanctuary.
“This has been a scary start to life for Fuzzy’s foal but there shouldn’t be any long-term damage and she should go on to be strong and healthy.”
Fuzzy arrived at the sanctuary along with two other mares, Lotte and Taylor, who were relinquished as part of a multi-agency case led by the RSPCA. Lotte gave birth to Lio on 23 April and Taylor’s foal, named Tulip, was born on 25 April.
To celebrate the foal’s survival, and as a way of saying thank you to its supporters, the Mare and Foal Sanctuary invited the public to suggest names for Fuzzy’s daughter, who has the protection of the sanctuary for the rest of her life. The winning name, announced on Monday (18 May) and suggested by Tracey Mann, was Teyah, which means precious or caring.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary was founded in 1988 by Rosemary Kind and registered as a charity in 1992. Today it is responsible for the lifelong care of 671 equines, with 225 cared for at its sanctuaries in Devon and 446 on loan to carers.
Like many charities, the rescue has suffered a significant decline in income owing to the coronavirus crisis.
Chief executive, Sarah Jane Williamson said: “Reaching our 1000th rescue is a stark reminder of the specialist care we must still provide. Our work to rescue, rehabilitate and retrain horses and ponies who have experienced neglect and abuse has changed considerably in recent years, with the rise in the intake of groups of horses and ponies from difficult and complex rescue situations, often in collaboration with other charities.
‘Watching a foal like Ava beat all the odds is why we do this job’
The mare had been scanned on both occasions but only one foetus was visible each time
“We knew complications were more likely with our recent foals, as all their mothers were rescued from a case where the owner was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Fuzzy Bear’s foal is doing well now, but only thanks to the lifesaving treatment she received in our care and with the help of the veterinary teams.
“We thank everyone for their donations and messages of support recently, and we wanted Fuzzy’s Bear’s foal to be named by our supporters to demonstrate our heartfelt appreciation.”
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.