Horse came close to death after suspected feeding of ‘mincemeat’ by walkers

  • The owner of a horse who came close to death after it is thought walkers fed him inappropriate foodstuffs is calling for better education of the general public.

    Lisa Porter’s seven-year-old gelding Mr T suffered a severe case of choke necessitating emergency vet treatment – and a £750 bill – caused by a substance that resembled mincemeat.

    Lisa told H&H the situation was compounded by the fact she could not visit her horse, who is on retirement livery in Kent as injury meant he could not be ridden, as the yard owner was self-isolating owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “He’s made it, but it was touch and go,” she said.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a vet so concerned; we really didn’t know if he was going to last the night.”

    Lisa said the yard owner called her at about lunchtime on 7 April to say Mr T was not himself; standing alone and not engaging with the other horses as he normally would. Video showed he was in distress, with foam coming from his mouth.

    “It looked like choke so I said to give him half an hour and see if he cleared it, but it got worse,” Lisa said.

    The vet sedated Mr T and tubed him, to try to clear the obstruction, flushing out a rubbery substance that resembled mince.

    “He got out as much as he could but had to stop because Mr T got a nasty nosebleed,” Lisa said. “But the vet said there was a good chance he’d inhaled whatever it was into his lungs and could get toxic pneumonia, in which case there would be nothing he could do – he said we’d just have to wait and see.

    Some readers may find the following video upsetting

    “You feel so helpless when you hear that; if he’d got it, that would have been it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared of losing a horse, or felt so helpless.”

    The vet left but had to return that night when Mr T went down. The yard owner then checked him hourly through the night, but the next morning, he was down again.

    The vet returned and tubed him again, clearing a significant amount of the “mincemeat”.

    “The vet thinks someone’s fed him something they shouldn’t have,” Lisa said, adding that footpaths lead through the yard, including through the horses’ field.

    “He’d had quite a lot of calls from other people experiencing difficulties with horses being messed with, and stuff dumped in fields.

    “There have been more people on the footpaths, and he’s a very friendly, social horse, who loves people and is a foodie, so probably the worst candidate; he’d go to anyone and take anything.”

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    Mr T is now recovered, and signs have been put up warning walkers not to feed the horses.

    “I live on a housing estate that a field of horses from a Riding for the Disabled Association school backs on to and people go and feed them bread, and take the kids to give them scraps,” Lisa said. “They think it’s innocent; they don’t understand, and I think the problem now is the increase; people can’t go out or drive anywhere so they’re exploring locally.

    “I’m sure people aren’t being malicious; they mean well and maybe they think horses are indestructible as they’re such big animals, but we know how fragile they are.”

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