Thieves have endangered a pony’s sight by stealing the special eye mask she was wearing last Sunday night (17 July).
Beatty, a 14-year-old 12.2hh Welsh pony rescued by Bristol-based charity HorseWorld, has sarcoids on her eyelids and suffers from uveitis, or moon blindness.
She had a mild form of the condition when the charity rescued her in 2004, but it has become more serious. The £150 mask blocks flies and UV light and without it, Beatty would eventually go blind.
“She’s only had this mask for a month,” said assistant yard manager Vicky Greenslade. “It was generously donated by Guardian Mask, the only company which makes them, and was imported from America to save Beatty’s sight.”
The night the mask was stolen, intruders took fly rugs off two other ponies at the charity’s Bristol base and put them on an electric fence so it could be moved. The two Shetlands, Nazia and Bingo, both suffer from sweet itch.
Having been left without their fly rugs on the first really hot night of the year, the ponies are now being treated for a reaction to the midge bites they suffered. Both have also suffered from laminitis in the past, and the moving of the electric fence prevented them from reaching their hay.
“These ponies are on a track system with hay placed at specific points to encourage movement,” Miss Greenslade said.
“They can’t have grass during the summer as they have previously suffered from laminitis, so the hay they were prevented from reaching was their only source of food.
“We don’t know how long they were prevented from reaching their hay but it was lucky they didn’t get colic.”
Nazia (pictured, above) came to HorseWorld in 2003 from Greece. The pony was one of a group kept as a companion to racehorses.
When the racehorses were moved, the owners shut five Shetlands in a stable and abandoned them.
The dung was so high by the time a local charity found them, the doorframes had to taken off to get the ponies out.
Bingo was rescued in 2011 with feet so overgrown they “turned up like Aladdin’s slippers.”
The charity said Sunday night’s actions were “particularly cruel”, but it has been targeted in the past.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had problems like this,” Miss Greenslade said. “We’ve found broken fence posts, horses released on to unsuitable grazing and graffiti.”
- Owners warned to be ‘extra vigilant’ after tack thefts
- Horses stabbed in ‘cruel and brutal’ attack
- All about eyes: equine recurrent uveitis
“We are appealing for whoever did this to return Beatty’s mask. If the person does not wish to be identified, they can just leave the mask on a fence post where we can easily find it when we are checking the horses.”
Anyone with information on the theft should call police on 101. For more information, or to donate towards a new mask for Beatty, click here.