Have you noticed a transformation in your appearance from the start of lockdown to now? You’re not alone…
An emaciated foal rescued by Redwings Horse Sanctuary at the start of the coronavirus outbreak has undergone a stunning transformation during lockdown.
Following Government guidance, Redwings closed the doors of its visitor centres to the public as the lockdown began but this did not stop the hard work of its rescue and rehabilitation teams continuing behind the scenes.
Desperately weak Matilda, now nine-months-old, was brought into the safety of the Sanctuary in March and is now looking at a happy and healthy future, poignantly just as the country starts to return to a semblance of normality.
Cob cross Matilda was discovered in a field near Diss, in South Norfolk, severely underweight with a body condition score of 0.5 (an ideal BCS is 3 out of 5), covered in lice and suffering from a severe worm burden. Without immediate help it was clear she would not survive.
The charity’s Senior Field Officer Julie Harding and Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman, with support from the RSPCA and the Police, transported Matilda to the charity’s specialist quarantine centre after several attempts to contact her alleged owner failed.
“As well as a prolific lice infestation, worms and emaciation, tests showed Matilda had very low protein levels in her blood and was anaemic,” Nicola said. “We started treating her cautiously with a wormer and steroids to reduce any gut inflammation caused by the worm burden, and then with a careful feeding plan we were able to help her safely put on weight.
“Matilda is sadly a classic example of a pony we often see in our welfare work. The way she turned the corner quite quickly shows that if her owner had just given her the basic care she needed, such as worming, feeding and feet trimming, then she would never have got into the suffering state that she was in.”
Now almost back to a healthy weight, Matilda has been transferred to Redwings’ headquarters at Hapton in South Norfolk – home of the charity’s Horse Hospital – where she can still be closely monitored by the vet team.
To help build her confidence, she has been befriended by older pony Mildred who often acts as a foster mum to rescued youngsters. Thanks to Mildred’s nurturing, Matilda is now slowly being integrated into a herd of other young ponies.
“The Matilda who went into the lockdown is almost unrecognisable from the one that’s now leaving it,” Nicola added. “As well as looking very different, she’s really coming into her own character. When she first arrived, she was very sad, showed no personality and didn’t want to interact with us at all. Now she’s starting to display quite a curious, cheeky side which is great to see.”
Redwings has offered a home to more than 50 horses, ponies and donkeys since the start of the lockdown, taking the charity’s total intake this year to over 100. In all, Redwings provides daily care for over 1,500 rescued horses, ponies, donkeys and mules across the UK.