Pony makes incredible recovery from severe liver damage

An owner who said she “had never seen anything like it” when her pony became ill due to liver damage has urged others to call the vet if they ever suspect their horse is showing signs.

Nineteen-month-old palomino cob, Hanzo, owned by Terri Taylor’s daughter Ashleigh, became suddenly ill in August.

Terri, who is based in Leicester, told H&H: “We bought Hanzo for Ashleigh’s birthday in April. He was a bit underweight and scrawny when he arrived but otherwise he was fine.

“Ashleigh had been picking up his feet one day and he fell down. Every time she touched his body he shook and went wobbly.”

Terri called her vet, who examined Hanzo but was initially unsure what the problem was.

“The vet was stumped so they did blood tests which came back that day and showed he had liver damage,” said Terri.

Hanzo when he was ill

“That night he went down again and we couldn’t get him up. The emergency vet came out and started him on antibiotics because he had a high temperature. The vet said things weren’t looking positive and suspected toxins had gone to his brain.

“I thought that was it. It was horrible to see, he was struggling to breathe and we just thought it was in the hands of the gods at that point. It was awful. We just had to pray he made it through to the morning.”

Hanzo made it through the night and was started on steroids the next day.

“He spent four weeks on steroids and we did more bloods in September and his liver had come back to about normal. We aren’t sure what caused the liver damage. The vet said he could have eaten a plant, but there is no ragwort in the field and there is no way of knowing what caused it or if he had any problems previously,” said Terri.

“They said he could have had it for a while without us knowing and symptoms can include sweating and sensitive skin and wobbling. If you see similar symptoms you need to get the vet straight away, you can’t mess around.

“He got through it and he’s a little fighter. You look at him now and he looks fantastic – the vet said they are shocked at how well he has recovered.”



Since Hanzo has made a full recovery, Ashleigh is looking forward to backing him when he is older.

Ashleigh, 15, told H&H: “It was really upsetting to see him that night. I was worried he was going to be brain damaged when they said toxins had gone to his brain. I didn’t want to think that he might not make it through, I had to stay positive. I’m very proud of him and excited about his future.

He’s doing really well and he has started putting weight on. I want to be the first one to have a sit on him when he’s old enough and then we’ll send him away to be professionally broken. I’m hoping to do some showing with him in the future.”

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.