Pony fed roast chicken dinner undergoes £5,500 colic surgery

  • The owner of a miniature Shetland pony who needed major surgery after he was given a roast dinner by an unknown person said she cannot understand the attitude of those who feed other people’s horses.

    Gail Hunter-Warburton found a plate of chicken, bones, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, sprouts and gravy in the field shared by her six-year-old gelding Hamish and 12-year-old mare Siran on 3 March.

    She told H&H she went to the field to check the horses, having dropped her foster sons at school that morning.

    “My girl always gallops over and whinnies, and Hamish isn’t usually far behind, but that day he wasn’t,” she said.

    “I stood there and thought ‘he’s not moving’. By the time I opened the gate, he’d come over but he didn’t look right. He put his head on my shoulder and collapsed. By the time the vet got there, she looked at me as if to say ‘I’m sorry, he hasn’t made it’.”

    Then Hamish twitched. The vet tubed him and told Gail to monitor him, so she sat with him all afternoon.

    “He was on his feet but just standing there like a zombie,” she said. “I wasn’t prepared to leave him like that so I phoned for a horsebox. He was in intensive care for two days and the vets said they would have to operate.”

    During the colic surgery, vets found a “huge” mass of hard, impacted food.

    “It was never going to move,” Gail said. “If I hadn’t gone down there when I did, I’d have found him dead in the field.”

    Hamish is still not back to normal, but has been turned out and has had a gallop, and a few bucks. Gail is hopeful he will recover fully, and that her insurance company will cover the bill, which is approaching £6,000 in total.

    She has since moved both horses from their field, as people are ignoring her large sign asking them not to feed the horses, not to mention another sign saying they are on CCTV, and “don’t feed” headcollars on the horses.

    “I’ve done everything I can think of and it still hasn’t worked,” she said.

    “What really got me was, after Hamish had gone, a lady walked up with a big bag of cooking apples, and one of carrots, walked up to my mare and got them out.

    “I said ‘excuse me’, and she looked at me as if to say ‘how dare you?’ She said she’d seen the pony lying down and was he ok, and I said ‘no, because someone fed him’. She said she gives the mare four carrots and two apples every day and I said ‘Can you not see the massive sign?’

    “She said ‘I’ve always fed horses and I always will’, and walked off in a huff.”

    Gail said she struggles to understand the entitled attitude that allows people to ignore signs, headcollars and a horse owner asking them specifically not to feed.

    “Where does that arrogance come from?” she said. “Why do people believe they’ve got that right? I’ve had it said to my face by people, that it’s their enjoyment to feed my horses, and I’m spoiling their fun. Until we get the message out there, people will keep on doing it.”

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    Gail wants to get across the message that nothing, not even food seen as suitable for horses, should be fed without owners’ permission.

    “The woman’s argument was ‘It’s just a few carrots and apples’, and what Hamish had was different because it was a roast dinner, but if she gives them one, and everyone else gives them one, what then? What can you do when someone’s standing in front of you arguing that it’s their right?

    “I started a campaign last year but it didn’t get very far. Now I’ll do anything I can to push it, and if it saves one life, that’s good, but I think people need to be prosecuted for this.

    “This was the most expensive roast dinner ever made.”

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