Owners are reminded to be vigilant against well-meaning members of the public feeding horses grass mowings, after a horse died from colic.
Piebald cob Dolly, owned by 15-year-old Hope Gimson and her mother Donna, was found suffering from colic in her field in Hemel Hempstead three weeks ago.
Donna and Hope saw grass choppings near five-year-old Dolly’s field and feared she may have eaten some of these to cause the colic.
Vets found this was the case, and that the mowings had impacted into a solid mass, causing Dolly’s colon to twist.
Dolly had surgery at the Royal Veterinary Hospital (RVC) in Potters Bar in the early hours of the following morning (24 July).
“From then on, we were on a rollercoaster,” said Hope.
“The night just before the operation, Mum and I were at the hospital saying goodbye, just in case Dolly didn’t make it. But at 3am, the vet phoned Mum to say Dolly had come through the surgery but she wasn’t out of the woods yet.”
Over the next ten days, Dolly remained at the RVC.
She came home on 4 August as she seemed to be recovering but two days later she became very ill with colic again.
“The vet came out, but nothing she did helped,” said Donna.
“After talking it over with a couple of friends who knew a lot about cases like Dolly, they helped us understand that Dolly had long-term damage to her digestive system and that she was never going to properly recover.
“Dolly was clearly suffering and, while it was the most heartbreaking decision Hope has ever had to make, I am so proud of her that she put Dolly’s needs before her own.”
Dolly was put to sleep on 6 August.
Hope and Donna now want to raise awareness to prevent a similar tragedy.
“Members of the public can cause all sorts of problems by feeding horses in their fields because they are unaware of the potential dangers,” added Donna.
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In Dolly’s case, the mowings had been left outside her field and the person responsible did not realise they were within Dolly’s reach.
“Like most horses, Dolly was very greedy,” said Hope.
“We knew it was the grass cuttings, because Dolly’s mane had been caught on the fence as she stretched between the wire to reach them and that is what the vets found in her stomach.”