Tina Auld Williamson’s PRE Andalusian mare Riva died on 7 April, having initially shown no classic signs of colic.
Tina told H&H the 14-year-old mare seemed mainly well when she came in from the field that day, but she “pulled her bed up a bit” and Tina suspected something was not quite right, despite the fact Riva was eating.
“I’m so particular about my horses and I always get the vet for anything that might be to do with colic. Everyone else was saying not to be stupid and there was nothing wrong, but I called the vet straight away.”
The vet found nothing amiss on examination and advised Tina to stay with Riva for a while to ensure she was well. Tina went to buy some food and returned to the yard.
“She was fine, but then she lay down and rolled, and got up; I thought ‘this isn’t right’,” Tina said. “She started pawing the ground and I called the vet. By the time the vet arrived, three and a half hours after it had all started, she was literally going down. I just knew.
“I asked the vet ‘Have you ever seen a horse this bad?’ and she said ‘Yes, and they usually go to horsey heaven’. I couldn’t breathe.
“She kept going down, and got cast on the arena wall; it was the most upsetting thing I’ve ever seen.”
A team of six people were trying to get Riva to her feet so she could be transported to hospital.
“She looked at me out of the corner of her eye and it was as if she said ‘I’ll try’,” Tina said. “We started to put her in the lorry; in the seven years we’ve had her, she’s never loaded but she went straight up as if she wanted to try.”
Ten minutes into the journey, the lorry had to turn back as Riva would not stay upright.
“We got back to the yard and she went straight to the arena and lay down, as if that was where she needed to be, and that was it,” Tina said.
“Her breathing was laboured and the vet said she was dying, whether she was put down or not; she was put to sleep there.
“For days, I couldn’t ring the vet as I was inconsolable, thinking I’d killed her. But the vet said this was nothing anyone had done. Something triggered it but there’s no way of knowing what, and that’s what’s spurred me on to fundraise, to try to get some answers for someone else in future.”
Tina and her husband Craig, who was offshore at the time of the incident but who mainly rode Riva, as well as friends are to climb Ben Ledi on 29 May, which is likely to take eight hours to the top and back, to raise money, via a fundraising page, for colic research at the University of Liverpool.
“Colic is so common but there’s no rhyme or reason to it at times,” Tina said. “But there must be, somewhere, we just don’t know it yet.
“This whole experience was horrific, so traumatising, and it feels like she’s been stolen for no reason.”
“All we saw was this 17hh horse hurtling towards us, and we thought ‘oh my god’, but then realised she
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
Tina, who also wants to raise awareness of early signs of colic, which some owners may not be familiar with, described Riva as “a pure mare”.
“She was a witch!” she said. “I wouldn’t have changed a hair on her head. She was a great character, and I think that’s why she was so loved.
“This has ripped so many people apart, and if it stops someone else and their animal going through it; I feel like she died for nothing, so I want to do something so it’s not.”
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.