‘I have never seen ponies this fat’: grossly obese Shetlands rescued by charity

  • Three grossly obese Shetland pony stallions will begin their “difficult recovery” thanks to their rescue by a welfare charity.

    The Horses and Ponies Protection Association (HAPPA) was alerted to the 17-year-old stallions, in Cumbria, by a member of the public. On investigation, the ponies were found to be unhandled and grossly overweight, with extremely overgrown hooves. They were taken to the charity’s Shores Hey Farm, Lancashire, on 31 July.

    HAPPA equine inspector Tracy Heaton said this type of rescue does not happen often.

    “The majority of the time I respond to equines who are underweight. In an extreme contrast, these three are so overweight that we needed to act immediately to ensure we put an end to their suffering,” she said.

    “It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure their animals don’t get this overweight, it is animal cruelty. As with humans the effects on health can be catastrophic.”

    Tracy added the temporary carer of the ponies didn’t have the knowledge to meet their needs, and she was told the owner had died from Covid-19.

    “It was agreed by all concerned they needed to be signed into the care of HAPPA to prevent further suffering,” she said.

    Kelly Laird, senior equine care officer, said it will be a “difficult recovery” ahead for stallions who have been named Samson, Sunny and Sol.

    “We will have to manage their weight to ensure they still receive enough nutrients, but begin to lose weight. We will also have to slowly introduce exercise to their daily routine while monitoring their heart and respiratory rates,” she said.

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    “I have never seen ponies this fat before. My wish is to get them healthy and happy so they have a long, healthy life and can go on to find the perfect for-ever home.”

    A HAPPA spokesman added the stallions will receive a bespoke rehabilitation plan to begin their weight loss and will receive farriery treatment. The charity is appealing for donations to help purchase an equine weighbridge.

    “Weight management is crucial for both the Shetlands and for all the horses and ponies in our care. A weigh bridge will give an accurate measurement of the ponies’ weight over the coming months to ensure they are on target,” she said.

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