Welfare warning as elderly mare colics after trespassers feed her

  • A rescue charity has reiterated warnings to the public not to feed horses after trespassers fed so many carrots to a 25-year-old mare that she suffered colic.

    Angie Bird, a volunteer for Horse Sense Wirral, found Tilly down in the field when she did her morning checks. She noticed numerous pieces of dropped carrot on the ground.

    Vet Helen Braid of Leahurst Equine Practice was called and diagnosed Tilly with spasmodic colic. She was treated with bute and Buscopan and later made a full recovery.

    When the charity spoke to neighbours and checked a local resident’s CCTV footage later in the day, they saw people had entered Tilly’s paddock and fed “a lot” of carrots to the elderly mare.

    Charity chairman Amy Pirie said: “People had climbed over the gate, which has a sign explaining not to feed the horses anything, due to them having EMS [equine metabolic syndrome], the sign explains EMS in non-horsey terms as well.

    “Fortunately Tilly has made a full recovery, but if we hadn’t found her so early it would have likely been fatal, she was very poorly.”

    The CCTV footage was passed on to police and Amy said she encouraged anyone who saw people feeding the horses to question them, as if it was any of the charity’s volunteers they would be “only too pleased you have taken the time to ask”.

    “Sadly, other people have since come forward to say that this kind of behaviour has been fatal to their horses, so we want to do anything we can to publicise this issue and stop people feeding horses they don’t own,” Amy added.

    Amy founded Horse Sense Wirral in 2009 and the charity now houses around 60 horses and ponies and has rescued more than 140 in total.

    This year’s intake has included four mares and some very young colts from the Carneddau Mountain in Wales. The herd is not owned but local farmers act as guardians for the ponies’ welfare.

    The charity became involved with the herd after rescuing a colt, Copper, who had been abandoned on the mountain and attacked by the native ponies last year. He is now thriving in the charity’s care.

    Horse Sense Wirral have subsequently joined in the farmers’ annual November round-ups.

    “We removed two mares with foals at foot in 2019, but four mares, two of which had foals at foot, and an additional six very young colts this year, as there were a lot of late foals this year and the decision was taken that it was best for them to come to us, to receive the extra care and nutrition they required,” Amy said.

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    “It’s been amazing to watch, as we geared up for hand-rearing, the mares within hours took on the foals. One mare, Blodwyn, fed her own, plus another three — the behaviours seen among truly untouched ponies are amazing.”

    Amy added that the ponies were coming on well with their handling and once castrated would be looking for forever loan homes “to make room for their brothers, sisters and cousins” next year.

    Anyone interested in adopting one of the colts from this ancient herd can contact Horse Sense Wirral through their Facebook page.

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