A rider whose world was “turned upside down” when her horse died after grass cuttings were tipped into his field wants to raise awareness in hopes his death may save another horse.
Zoe Mannion’s 13-year-old Irish draught/thoroughbred gelding Frank, “a goof with a golden heart”, died despite the best efforts of vets, on 2 August.
“It’s been absolutely horrendous,” Zoe told H&H.
“We’d had him since he was a baby and now he’s been taken away. I’ve had horses all my life and they get to an age where you have to decide, or it’s taken out of your hands, but he was only 13 and he’s gone. It’s been truly awful.”
Zoe came home from work on 30 July to find Frank eating from a large pile of cuttings in his field. She was told he had not had access to the grass for long, so she shooed him away and fenced off the pile.
By first thing Friday morning, the 18hh gelding was showing signs of colic, so Zoe called the vet.
“It appeared we’d caught it pretty early; the vet said keep an eye on him and we thought he’d be ok,” Zoe said. “Saturday came and he wasn’t comfortable but not in pain or trying to roll or anything. Then on Sunday, he went back down and it looked worse.
“Three hours later, he was in so much pain, he was kicking himself in the head.”
Zoe’s neighbours rallied round, trying to keep the huge gelding on his feet once he was sedated, but eventually, he had to be taken to the Three Counties equine hospital.
“The vets had said he was really sick, then they came back and said there was nothing they could do,” Zoe said. “We went to say our goodbyes and he was dying in front of us.”
A post-mortem showed Frank had a “gutful” of grass cuttings, and that the gas from its fermentation had caused displacement of his intestines.
“Because Frank was such a soldier, he tried to fight it, and hid the pain, but his heart was blown to bits,” Zoe said. “It was a horrible death by the sounds of it.
“On Saturday, I’d thought it was looking good, then on Sunday, my world was turned upside down.”
Zoe said when her story was first shared online, she was shocked by the number of people who said they had not realised grass cuttings were bad for horses.
If this makes even one person think twice, that’s a good thing.
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“We’re in the countryside and I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t know,” she said. “And there were other people saying that if they saw a horse in a field, they’d go and feed it but don’t; if it’s not yours, don’t touch it and don’t feed it. You wouldn’t with a cow, so why a horse?”
Zoe said Frank had a “heart of gold”.
“He was a cheeky character, and a show-off,” she added. “If anyone was looking, he’d make sure they were looking at him.
“I knew him inside out and he knew me the same; together we were unstoppable. I trusted him with my life and my daughter’s, and he trusted me with his, and now I don’t know if I want to get on a horse again; the love, the passion, the enjoyment, it’s ruined for me.
“He was a goof with a golden heart. I never got off him and wasn’t smiling, and he got me through so much in my life. To look out of the kitchen window now and not see his cheeky face is heartbreaking.
“But not enough people know about this. If anything comes from this, it would be nice if Frank could save other horses’ lives.”
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