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Pony found emaciated and close to death in field

PUBLISHED: 16:24 22 July 2020

Matilda at Redwings' specialist quarantine centre. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Matilda at Redwings' specialist quarantine centre. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Redwings Horse Sanctuary

An emaciated pony rescued at the start of the coronavirus outbreak has undergone a stunning transformation during lockdown.

Emaciated pony Matilda when rescued. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryEmaciated pony Matilda when rescued. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Desperately weak foal Matilda was discovered in a field near Diss severely underweight, covered in lice and suffering from a severe worm burden. Without immediate help she would not have survived.

The Cob cross, now nine-months-old, was brought into the safety by Norfolk-based Redwings Horse Sanctuary in March.

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.

Emaciated pony Matilda when rescued. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryEmaciated pony Matilda when rescued. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

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The charity’s senior field officer Julie Harding and welfare veterinary surgeon Nicola Berryman, with support from the RSPCA and police, transported Matilda to the charity’s specialist quarantine centre after several attempts to contact her alleged owner failed.

Nicola said: “As well as a prolific lice infestation, worms and emaciation, tests showed Matilda had very low protein levels in her blood and was anaemic.

“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.

Emaciated pony Matilda at Redwing' sspecialis quarantine centre. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryEmaciated pony Matilda at Redwing' sspecialis quarantine centre. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

“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.

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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.

Now almost back to a healthy weight, Matilda as she is now. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryNow almost back to a healthy weight, Matilda as she is now. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Nicola added: “The Matilda who went into the lockdown is almost unrecognisable from the one that’s now leaving it. As well as looking very different, she’s really coming into her own character.

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“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.”

Matilda she has been befriended by older pony Mildred. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryMatilda she has been befriended by older pony Mildred. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Redwings is a charity funded by donations from the public. It 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.

Now almost back to a healthy weight, Matilda as she is now. Picture: Redwings Horse SanctuaryNow almost back to a healthy weight, Matilda as she is now. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary


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