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Heartbreak as ‘mischievous’ Shetland who delighted visitors put down

A rescued Shetland pony whose “mischievous and cheeky” behaviour made her a firm favourite with visitors and staff at Bransby Horses has been put down, aged 20, after 18 years with the charity.

Twiggy was taken into Bransby’s care in 2002 when she was found injured and foaling at the side of a road. While Twiggy’s foal did not survive, the mare became one of the charity’s “most popular” long-term residents after life-saving treatment.

“She proved so popular she was made a ‘sponsorship star’ that supporters could sponsor for £36 a year to help with her care, and that of her fellow 336 equines at the charity’s two sites,” said a Bransby spokesman.

As Twiggy grew older her health deteriorated and at the end of 2019 she was suffering with dental issues, with diastemas (large gaps) forming between her teeth trapping decaying food.

“Sadly despite receiving the very best care from our expert team, including regular dental treatments, her dental issues steadily deteriorated during 2020,” said the spokesman.

“At an assessment last month it was clear Twiggy’s dental issues were no longer responding to treatment, and there were concerns the pain relief she was being given wasn’t having the desired effect.”

The spokesman said the charity made the difficult decision to put the mare down knowing that she would struggle to cope with winter because her dental issues made it difficult for her to chew hay.

Bransby Horses visitor centre team leader Michelle Craven said having spent so much time with the mare, it “breaks her heart” that Twiggy is no longer with them.

“She was simply the most wonderful Shetland pony you can imagine and became a firm favourite with our supporters over the years as one of our nine sponsorship stars,” she said.

“There are countless tales of her mischievous side, which she regularly demonstrated to staff and visitors at our site, and she will be hugely missed.”

Michelle said while it’s never easy to say goodbye, as a welfare charity Bransby’s founding principle is doing what is best for the horse every time.

“Sometimes sadly this means putting a horse to sleep in order to avoid them suffering any further pain or distress,” she said. “It fills me with happiness however to know that thanks to the public’s generosity, we were able to provide Twiggy with 18 years of love and care, ensuring she lived the most comfortable and happy life possible while she was with us.”

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The spokesman added ahead of winter the charity is reminding owners of the importance of proper dental care for horses.

“We know from speaking with owners that in some cases people don’t always keep to the same dental routine with older horses as they might for younger horses. Unfortunately that can sometimes lead to issues such as dental disease developing,” said Lara Gosling, Bransby veterinary surgeon.

“Proper dental care is an essential routine for a healthy horse and can add a significant number of years to a horse’s life.”

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