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‘We’re in bits’: mare’s death likely caused by walkers feeding her 

The devastated owners of a mare who died of suspected poisoning from unsuitable food is appealing to the public to stop feeding horses.

Sheila Cursley’s 22-year-old Welsh section D Twilly had to be put down last Saturday (9 May). Sheila said her vet confirmed the mare showed all relevant signs of poisoning.

“My daughter is in bits,” Sheila told H&H. “She was her first proper horse, we’ve had her 11 or 12 years, and my daughter loved her.

“We got a call from the lady who lives opposite to say Twilly was down. My husband and I rushed down there and found her collapsed, breathing heavily and trying to get up but she couldn’t.”

Sheila called the vet, who told her there were no signs of colic or choke. Twilly was suffering convulsions and despite the vet’s best efforts, her condition did not improve and she had to be put down.

“The vet said she must have been dying anyway because when he gave her the injection, she went so quickly,” Sheila said.

“I’ve had horses all my life and had never seen anything like it.”

Sheila said the gate of her horses’ field, which she has rented for over 15 years, is next to a footpath, which many more people than usual have been using during the lockdown.

“We’ve had problems with people feeding them,” she said. “I’m sure no one’s doing it maliciously but we’d put posters up, and spoken to people, and the woman opposite said she’s always seeing people feeding them.

“We checked the field thoroughly and couldn’t find anything that could have caused it, and the vet asked if people had been feeding them. He said that’s all he could put it down to, and Twilly isn’t the first horse he’s seen that happen to.

“I had to be strong that day for my daughter but when I was at home on my own the next day, I broke into pieces.”

Sheila said her landowner has offered to build a second gate to keep the other horses, including a youngster out of Twilly, away from passers-by, and in the meantime she has been lent a battery to electrify fencing for the same purpose.

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“But I’m questioning having the others there now,” she said. “I can’t risk anything happening to the others. I didn’t sleep for two nights with worry; I was going down there to check them in the early hours.

“I just want to get the word out there: please don’t feed horses. However nice you think you’re being, this is what can happen.

“Twilly was the gentlest horse and we all loved her, it’s hit my daughter so hard. I’m sure whoever it was wasn’t being malicious but it’s likely they’ve killed my horse through their ‘kindness’.

“I just want people to be aware.”

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