Heartbreak after adder bite claims the life of elderly gelding

  • An elderly gelding who had found “a new lease of life” since his recent move to a sanctuary has been put down after he was bitten by an adder.

    Freshfields Animal Rescue in Caernarforn, North Wales, welcomed 30-year-old Ty at the end of May following his owner’s death. The gelding arrived at the charity underweight and had started treatment for arthritis.

    Groom Vanessa Williams told H&H Ty had settled in “brilliantly” and become friends with the charity’s other elderly horses, 35-year-old Sally and 32-year-old Cherry.

    “When he first arrived he looked very tired. He had a full MoT from the vet and we were feeding him four times a day,” she said.

    “In three weeks he put weight on and he loved his old girls, they all went out together every day and would come into the big agricultural building at night. He really had found a new lease of life.”

    Vanessa said last Thursday (8 July) she noticed Ty lying down a lot, which “wasn’t unusual” for him.

    “I’ve always been concerned about his back end as he was very weak so he would often lie down. On Friday morning I arrived and he didn’t come out of the building so I brought his breakfast over to him. I noticed his right hind leg and sheath were extremely swollen and boiling hot to touch,” she said.

    “The vet arrived and said he’d been bitten by an adder but we couldn’t see a wound. His leg was getting bigger in front of us and spots of serum were bursting out. His heart was racing and he kept going down and struggling to get back up.”

    The “heartbreaking” decision was made to put Ty down.

    “The vet was concerned he was going to have a heart attack and he was in distress. I just wish we could have done more,” said Vanessa.

    “He was an absolute gentleman, he loved his cuddles and scratches. He wasn’t with us long but he really pulled on our heart strings. We’re devastated.”

    Continued below… 

    Vanessa said the vet warned that cloudy but warm weather conditions are favourable for adders, and the charity hopes to make more people aware of the risk.

    “The vet has seen other adder bites and knew straight away that’s what it was. When Ty was collected by the disposal man he said he’s seen lots of bites on cattle too,” she said.

    “I’ve known dogs to be bitten but never a horse. We have rehomed nearly 20 horses in the past year so we have more grass than usual and it’s been the perfect environment for them. We want others to be vigilant and if you’re ever in doubt, to contact your vet.”

    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.

    You may like...