‘I thought my heart would burst’: horse left to die on roadside stuns on show debut

  • A young horse who was found collapsed and abandoned on the road last autumn has won hearts after he came second on his showing debut.

    Last autumn, it was thought Woody might not pull through, having been found lying exhausted on a Tipperary road. Last Saturday, he won his first rosette, at Cork Summer Show in Curraheen.

    Kelly Mellerick of My Lovely Horse Rescue, which took Woody in and restored him to health, told H&H no one at the charity has stopped smiling since his show success.

    “It’s just phenomenal,” she said. “When you have the long days, you’re there through the night and you eventually lose them, a little piece of your heart gets lost with them. Something like this – all the help and support, the multi-agency working, the network of fosterers and adopters, Woody is testament to that. I don’t think any of us has wiped the smiles off our faces yet.”

    Kelly said she had a call from a member of the gardai on 15 October last year.

    “He said the horse has been sulkied and collapsed,” she said. “He sent me the photo of him lying in the road and I said ‘Have we got a live horse here? It doesn’t look good’.”

    The officer called a vet, and both stayed with Woody as he managed to get to his feet. He was taken to a fosterer nearby for the night, then on to My Lovely Horse Rescue. Kelly said the team managed to access Woody’s passport as he was microchipped, and that he had been in the UK at some point, but his most recent owner had not updated his details so could not be traced. The vet completed a comprehensive report, and Woody was signed over to the charity.

    “The vet said he was underweight and had no muscle tone – he didn’t have the physical ability to pull or run at the time,” Kelly said. “He had no fitness at all, it was sheer exhaustion. We see so many horses who have had collisions with cars or have collapsed and died on the roads; they couldn’t be saved. So he is a very lucky boy, and lucky the gardai came across him and acted so quickly.”

    Woody was on the path to recovery, with careful feeding and rehabilitation, when one of the charity’s fosterers thought she had found his new person.

    “She said ‘I think I’ve got the girl for him’, and she brought Orianna down,” Kelly said. “We tied him up and she stood there and groomed him for ages. He stood like a lamb and she just fell in love with him. She’s only 13 but they had a bond – I could see him straight away.”

    Once Woody had been castrated and recovered, he move to Orianna, who put in months of groundwork.

    “That then showed him at his beautiful best last Saturday,” Kelly said. “I thought my heart was going to burst when I saw the photos.

    “The organisers and judges didn’t know his story when he went in the ring, he was an equal, but when they realised what had happened to him, it blew them away. His story has grabbed the hearts of the nation, and across the world.”

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