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NHS worker’s mare kicked by field mates as walkers feed horses scraps

An A&E nursing assistant has joined calls to the public not to feed horses after her mare was repeatedly kicked by her field mates as they fought over treats.

Charlotte Telfer, who lives in Newcastle, has been working 14-hour shifts dealing with Covid-19 patients and said 11-year-old Ava’s injuries were “the worst timing in the world”.

“It was totally avoidable and really frustrating,” Charlotte told H&H. “The fields back on to Newcastle airport and there is high footfall and a lot of traffic going past. Every half an hour we are having to move people off — it’s not just the risk to the horses, I am working with Corona patients and they are touching my horse, so it’s just as dangerous for them.”

Charlotte said the 15.3hh Hanoverian/Irish draught cross, whom she bought from Scott Brash’s yard in Peebles, suffered extensive cuts and bruising “all over her body” when she was attacked by the small herd last Wednesday (22 April).

“She has only been back out in the herd for a few months as she had been on box rest for a different injury,” Charlotte said. “Although she had settled, because of the time she had spent in she went straight to the bottom of the pecking order.

“There were families throwing vegetable peelings over the fence and the other three mares got her into a corner and piled into her.”

Another livery saw the incident and initially thought Ava was unharmed but she was later discovered lying down in the corner of the field.

“We think she had been lying down for about three and a half hours by the time my mum got there, which shows you how shocked she was and in how much pain,” Charlotte said. “A lady at the yard was going to bring her horsebox into field to load her and take her to the vets but once the vet came out, they managed to medicate and sedate her and got her up and back to the yard to do a full examination.”

Ava was barely weight-bearing on her back legs and has had new haemotomas “coming up each day”. She has been given bute and is on box rest while Charlotte waits to see if there are any more serious underlying injuries.

“When the vet checked the white lines on her feet there was thick clotted blood coming out,” said Charlotte, who mostly competes Ava in riding club dressage and showjumping.

“The vet hoped it was bruising but they were concerned there might be a fracture within hoof capsule. As we’re in lockdown we decided it was best not to move her to the vets for X-rays at the moment and we may as well box rest, as that would be the treatment anyway.”

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Other liveries on the yard have now created laminated signs to warn the public about feeding the horses and let them know about the accident their actions caused.

“I can understand why the public are feeding and stroking the horses — I don’t think there is any badness behind it, I just want them to be aware of the consequences,” Charlotte added. “I don’t want an ‘us versus them’ mentality, we’re not just saying ‘don’t touch our horses’ because they are ours. People think they are the only family visiting and don’t realise they are the 20th family to stop that day.”

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