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Months-old foal given 2% chance of survival fights back from the brink

The owner of a months-old foal who was given a 2% chance of survival owing to extensive worm damage wants to share his story to give others hope.

Coloured colt Beau was thought to be about two months old when Jodie King bought him in September. He was sold at that age as his dam had rejected him, not allowing him to feed and continually chasing him away.

Jodie followed her vets’ advice on his care but by mid-November, he was unwell, and losing weight.

“I’d noticed he didn’t really interact with the others but thought, as did the vet, that he just didn’t know how to be a horse, as he’d only ever been chased off and shoved,” she told H&H.

“He had loose stools and a cough, and seemed lethargic, so I got the vet.

“It was heartbreaking because the vet said ‘he’s at breaking point now. The odds have always been against him but he’ll either survive or he won’t; he’ll get better or he’ll die’. It was absolutely gut-wrenching.”

The vet put Beau on a probiotic and told Jodie to monitor him for a month but two days later, he took a turn for the worse.

“He was freezing cold, lying down and with no appetite,” Jodie said. “I wrapped rugs round him and called the emergency vet. I couldn’t wait as I didn’t think he’d make it.”

Tests showed that Beau, who had likely never nursed and so not benefited from any of his dam’s immunity, had a large roundworm burden, which was causing major issues. Roundworms are a notorious problem in foals, not least owing to issues of resitance to many common wormers. Parasites can persist despite treatment, causing issues, as happened in this case.

“The vet treated him but said she couldn’t give him more than a 2% chance of survival,” Jodie said. “She gave him the treatment and said ‘it’s up to him now’.”

Jodie appealed on social media for cheap rugs for Beau but the first “seller” took her money and did not send the rugs.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “So many people offered to send rugs. A lot of time there’s tit for tat in the equestrian community but when something like this happens, people come together.”

Jodie, who said when Beau no longer needs the rugs, she will either return them or pass them on to someone in a similar situation, said the colt is improving; eating and no longer coughing.

“A few days ago, he cantered for the first time; it made me cry,” she said. “I couldn’t give up on him because he was willing to fight, so I had to fight for him. We were each other’s reason to keep going.”

Jodie’s vets warned that Beau may have issues in future owing to the worm damage.

“I haven’t got thousands to pay for a foal who might not get better,” she said. “But you can’t put a price on his life; I’ll do whatever it takes.

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Jodie hopes her story will give hope to anyone else in a similar situation.

“He is proof that if you know your horse isn’t ready to give up the fight, then keep fighting that fight for them,” she said. “He is a horse of a lifetime and I really hope he will live a long and healthy life full of love, enjoyment and a bond like no other.

“Slowly he will learn what it means to really be a horse but I will be there with him every step of the way, and show him I will never give up on him. He will only know love for the rest of his life, and even if I can never ride him, he won’t go anywhere.

“I couldn’t have got through this without my family, friends and the overwhelming support from social media. People who were once strangers are like little guardian angels for my boy and I will for ever be grateful so thank you all.”

Worming programmes should always be discussed with a vet as wormer resistance is a major issue.

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