Mare dies leaving orphaned foal, with other horses badly burnt in stable fire

  • A desperate appeal has been made by those trying to save the lives of horses who were severely burned in a fire over Christmas.

    A nursing mare has since died as an indirect result of the burns she suffered, but staff and volunteers at the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) are caring for her foal and other horses affected.

    “While the rest of us were putting our feet up and enjoying the Christmas festivities, staff and volunteers at GHDT had to cancel any plans of celebrations as they were alerted to three horses who had been seriously injured in a stable fire,” a charity spokesman said. “The horses were more than 250km away from the charity’s veterinary centre in a remote part of the country where there are no veterinary facilities.”

    The GHDT had to transport the animals in a non-specialist lorry to its veterinary clinic, where the ‘hard work of treatment began”, with pain relief the priority.

    “The most seriously injured was a mare with foal at foot,” the spokesman said, adding that her foal was unharmed but could no longer suckle owing to the severity of the burns to his dam’s teats.

    The charity said it was “deeply saddened” that the mare contracted tetanus from her wounds and had to be put down.

    GHDT director Heather Armstrong said: “The foal is now being fed by a dedicated member of the GHDT team and has thankfully taken well to this.”

    The horses were partially blind from smoke damage but the spokesman said it is likely this will resolve in time and their sight will return.

    “The tips of some of their ears may drop off due to the burns,” he added. “Care for these horses is round the clock and requires large quantities of medications, bandaging materials and hours and hours of staff time. For a small charity, this is a huge task but one that has been tackled head-on with the same determination this amazing charity team shows on a daily basis.”

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    The charity is appealing for donations to support the care of the horses, and the many others it works with.

    “People may ask why the horses were not euthanised; in many countries owners may not give permission for euthanasia,” the spokesman said. “Sometimes because of religious reasons, sometimes because they rely so heavily on their animals for their own income that to consider giving up on them is just unthinkable. Horses are a huge investment for people living in poverty and they rely heavily on their working equines to provide their family income.

    “Because of this and where euthanasia is not a viable option, the GHDT team goes above and beyond to do what they can for each individual animal in their care, while keeping them as comfortable as possible. They have achieved many small miracles in the past and with your help hopefully these horses will also become little new year miracles themselves.”

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