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‘Highlighting the heartbreak’: owner’s open letter to walkers who caused her mare’s illness

The owner of a pony who has still not recovered from being fed by walkers two months ago has written an open letter to those responsible.

Sarah Casey hoped that by sharing her mare Petal’s experiences online, it would help raise awareness of the devastating consequences of well-meaning actions.

She explained how she felt at seeing her 16-year-old mare suffer, adding that despite extensive veterinary treatment, Petal’s survival is not guaranteed.

Sarah, who is waiting for an operation as part of treatment for breast cancer, told H&H Arab/Welsh Petal suffered a displaced colon in late March.

She survived that but was put on a restricted diet afterwards to help her recover.

“Then someone was seen feeding her over the fence,” Sarah said.

“I don’t know what it was – it could have been bread, vegetables, sweets; anything.

“When I went down to look at the bridleway at the back of the field, there were fruit and vegetable wrappers, empty bread bags and all sorts. We just don’t know.”

Petal was very unwell, Sarah said, initially with chronic, long-lasting diarrhoea and colic. But even now, and despite a “cocktail of drugs”, she is still unable to tolerate “normal” amounts of food, or her symptoms return.

“The vets said on Monday [15 June] I had three options,” Sarah said. “One was to put her to sleep. The second was to take her to hospital for scans, but they said they wouldn’t find anything as it’s just inflammation of the gut, or try antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, which I’ve done.”

Sarah said there is now more hope for a positive outcome for Petal, but it is not certain, and she will need intense care for months.

Sarah said since lockdown was enforced, the number of people walking near Petal’s field has increased sharply, and that some have climbed the outer fence to feed horses through the electric fence within it.

“It’s so worrying that people think it’s ok to feed other people’s horses,” she said.

“If I could speak to whoever did it, I’d like to explain the impact it’s had; on her life, my life. I can’t work at the moment because I’m waiting for a mastectomy and I’ve got a vet bill for about £3,500.

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“She’s a member of my family. I haven’t got kids and she’s the one who’s kept me going through this last year; if I lost her, I think I’d give up.”

In her letter, Sarah wrote: “I don’t hate you. I hate what you’ve done, but I’m hoping you didn’t know any better and it was meant as a nice gesture.

“I am, however, writing this to let you know what you’ve done.

“I’m writing this so others know how feeding horses without the owner’s permission can have some awful consequences. To highlight the heartbreak caused by watching someone (yes someone, not something) you love be so ill and not be able to do anything about it.

“Please let your friends know the consequences of well-meaning actions.”

Friends have set up a fundraising page to help towards Sarah’s vet bill.

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