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Horse to lose eye after fireworks incident

A gelding severely injured in a fireworks incident will undergo surgery to have his eye removed tomorrow (10 November) as more than £13,400 has been raised by well-wishers.

Charley Taylor’s 21-year-old gelding Dettori, who she owns with her mother Debbie Walker, was injured in his field at a DIY livery yard in Aberdeen on Thursday evening (5 November) when fireworks were let off nearby.

Charley told H&H she had seen Dettori at 5pm that evening and received a telephone call from her friend Trish Price, who stays at a neighbouring property to the yard, at 8.30pm to say she had seen fireworks going off in the direction of the horses’ field.

“Trish sometimes looks after the horses if we’re ever away so when she saw the fireworks going off she went to check on them and found Dettori with a bloody eye. She couldn’t see his pupil and said all the fencing was down where they had been careering around,” said Charley.

“We went to the yard and got the vet. We won’t know exactly what happened to cause the injury but we think it was a firework. Something impacted Dettori’s eye so much and the vet said there was nothing he could do to save it; it would either have to be removed, or he would have to be put down.”

Charley said she and her mum were “absolutely distraught” at what had happened and the prospect of losing Dettori.

“He is such a big part of our family,” she said. “It was agreed to give him a couple of days to see how he got on with being only able to see with one eye. He’s not old, but he’s not young either and we didn’t want to put him through surgery and the stress of recovery without knowing he would cope ok.”

Dettori, who has arthritis in his hind legs, was kept in a stable following his injury but on the vet’s return the following day it was agreed he needed to stay out.

“He was getting stressed as he struggles to turn in his stable because of the arthritis, and he kept trying to turn so he could see out of his other eye,” said Charley.

“Every little noise was making him jump. He was a horse you could describe as bombproof and now he is jumping at the sound of a car starting. We put him out in the field and he began settling down and seemed to be less stressed having more space to turn.”

Today (9 November) Dettori had a further vet check and it has been agreed to proceed with surgery to remove the damaged eye.

“The vet said Dettori’s eye resembled a ‘flat tyre’ and there really wasn’t an eye to save. He’s become more confident over the weekend and the vet thinks he’ll cope with having it removed. I was crying in relief when he told me,” she said.

“He travelled to the hospital this afternoon and will have surgery tomorrow. Dettori is so loved, I know we’ll get him through this.”

Charley said she spoke to the person who set off the fireworks but said the man did not show any remorse when he was told about Dettori. She reported the incident to Police Scotland.

“In the 10 years we’ve kept horses at the yard we’ve never had an issue with someone letting off fireworks – we’ve never had to think twice about it being a possibility,” she said.

“More than anything I just wanted an apology from the man, I don’t believe he meant to harm the horses but he didn’t say anything.”

Charley posted about the incident online which has received thousands of shares and comments, and was asked by supporters to set up a GoFundMe page.

“We can’t believe the support we’ve had. I’ve had messages from people whose horses have lost an eye, saying how well they have coped which has given us a lot of hope,” she said.

“We hadn’t planned to set up the page and felt quite guilty doing it but so many people asked if they could help towards his vet fees. It’s been overwhelming how much strangers have cared.”

To date more than £13,400 has been donated by well-wishers which will cover Dettori’s vet fees, with the remainder being donated to welfare charities SSPCA and World Horse Welfare.

“The amount raised is crazy! When we saw the total go up we just knew we had to help other animals with it,” said Charley. “We’re now focusing on the positives.”

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In a statement a spokesman for Police Scotland North East Division said the force’s “thoughts are with Dettori”, and that enquiries are ongoing.

“We are working with the owner and those participating in the display,” said chief inspector Darren Bruce. “The intention was never to harm and unfortunately, the result has had tragic consequences for the animal. Although safety measures had been taken, animals whether near to a display or at some distance can be impacted and become distressed.”

Anyone with information in relation to this incident can contact the police on 101 or via the Police Scotland website.

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