I recently got called out by a member of the public to look at a tethered pony in Cottingham. Their concern was that it had a poorly/damaged eye and they were very worried about it.
I went down straight away to find this beautiful little Stallion was indeed in need of urgent veterinary help. What was left of his right eye was mess, and it appeared to have been left untreated for a very long time. Apart from the surgery needed, Lucky was in excellent condition, had beautifully kept feet and has a very sweet, kind and friendly nature. I called for the RSPCA to come down and assess the situation. I was also joined by a great friend of mine called Jackie to help me in this situation I found myself in.
His owner turned up, very distraught that we were going to take his pony away. I will call him Syd for privacy reasons. Lucky was all Syd has left in life and is simply the only reason he gets up in the morning. They obviously had a very sweet bond and had been together for a very long time. Lucky was very affectionate with him, no fear or stress from the pony- the opposite in fact. Syd looked to be a poorly person in himself, living in obviously difficult circumstances yet his pony was in beautiful health. Therein lay the quandary.
Everyone knows how much I abhor the fly grazing culture suffered by so many ponies across the UK yet here was a pony stallion who wanted for nothing except the money needed for his eye to be removed. The life he knew was the only life he had ever known and he was loved and cared for in all the ways he needed for his basic welfare. This was a partnership I saw in front of me, a much better one than so very many I see in the stabled/livery yard scenario’s I work in.
Signing this pony over to the RSPCA was not necessarily in the best interest of this pony either. They are over stretched to breaking point with coloured ponies and Lucky being an older stallion was never going to be a candidate for re homing. Too old to castrate ethically speaking (and pointless too as he would always be a stallion in his head and never can live alongside other horses in a herd situation) and in need of expensive surgery on top. I found myself in unfamiliar territory. The human side to this story mattered. I saw a man in front of me who would be destroyed if he lost his reason to live and a pony who did not deserve an
uncertain future if handed over because of my personal beliefs and dare I say bigotry.
A vet attended and Lucky was given a course of pain relief drugs. The attending RSPCA Inspector issued a decree that Syd had to find the wherewithal to have Lucky’s eye removed or lose his pony by the end a 2-week course of pain relief.
I walked away from this desperate situation with a very heavy heart and in a personal conflict. Syd did not have the money for such serious surgery yet I also felt that he did not deserve to lose his pony. Lucky had known long term suffering and had to have this surgery. They both needed help – so therein lies the tale, the quandary and the soul searching. When I spoke to the local horse feed merchant manager, they spoke highly of Syd and his long-term love for his pony and how Lucky always got the correct feed etc. Lucky’s feet were well shod and cared for so Syd was paying for a proper farrier, not doing as so many do by hacking at their pony’s feet themselves to save money.
I decided to try to fund raise the surgery. My vets, Rainbow Equine Hospital at Malton, agreed to keep the costs to a minimum but give first class service and I thank them whole heartedly for such support and kindness. I had a figure to work towards. Jackie supported this decision completely and helped me plan a campaign. I went back to work and told anyone who would listen about this situation. The kindness and understanding stunned me. My customers, my friends and my family all donated. Random people in Skidby donated. Mr and Mrs Hall, who called me out that morning donated, Mrs hall being very concerned as to making sure Syd was getting the medical help he needed.
In less than a week I had raised enough money to have Lucky operated on, have his teeth checked and rasped and to have a course of injections for mites present in his leg feathers. I bought Syd a very warm jacket as he was always cold and organised my diary to take Lucky to Malton. I picked him up the day before and had him on my yard. My staff poured so much love into him, washing his legs and tail. Grooming him, detangling and plaiting up his gorgeous long mane- he looked a new horse when I set off early on Friday morning.
The staff at Rainbow were all so taken with Lucky and his sweet nature. His eye was operated on and stitched up, all his other procedures were done and I
brought him back to my yard after he was fully recovered for a few days of rest and recuperation.
Everyone came to see him and fed him carrots and gave him fusses. He must have thought he was in pony heaven! I am just so grateful to everyone who helped me help Lucky and Syd. My faith in human nature has been restored and I have learned a big lesson along the way. I learned that you must be prepared to look at the bigger picture no matter how it may be in conflict to a hard-felt belief of what is right and what is wrong. Welfare include humans as well as their animals. I am humbled by people’s kindness and generosity especially as it was towards a situation I wrote about recently where my belief is that horses cannot and should not be kept on a shoe string in poverty.
Lucky is Lucky. I am now his guardian should anything ever happen to Syd, health wise. I monitor him and was present yesterday when his stitches were removed and will give him the remainder of his mite’s injections. Syd knows he can ring me anytime and I will do what I can to help him because that is the best way I can help Lucky.
If anyone knows of or has a private paddock in or around the Cottingham area where Lucky can live a life off his chain, then I would be very grateful to hear from you. He is a very quiet little 13 hand pony and is delightful to handle and look after so there is no issue with the fact that he is entire. He deserves to be away from the vulnerable life on a chain. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org