Firework displays “likely” to have resulted in the deaths of two ponies at sanctuary near Tasburgh

Sprite had to be put to sleep by vets on Saturday evening.

Sprite had to be put to sleep by vets on Saturday evening. - Credit: Archant

Firework displays have been blamed for the deaths of two ponies at a horse sanctuary near Tasburgh.

Percy was put to sleep on Sunday morning.

Percy was put to sleep on Sunday morning. - Credit: Archant

The animals had to be put down over the weekend after they were found injured in a field south of Norwich.

Vets from Redwings Horse Sanctuary were called to Piggots Farm on November 5 and 6 to deal with two separate incidents.

Sprite, a 19-year-old, 12.2hh Welsh pony was found on Saturday evening by the charity's night team suffering from suspected colic.

The animal was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily.


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Veterinary surgeon Dawn Trayhorn said: 'Although it may have been a coincidence that loud fireworks were being let off nearby, it is possible that Sprite's colic could have been brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field.

'Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to try and encourage him to get up, he was unable and unwilling to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep.'

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She added that horses in the neighbouring field were also 'very agitated and distressed.'

A second horse was found in the same field as Sprite just hours later following an early morning check by the charity.

Percy, a 25-year-old, 13hh Palomino pony, was discovered non-weight-bearing lame on his right front leg and in an 'incredible' amount of pain.

He was brought by trailer into the stables for veterinary examination and radiographs, as his front upper leg was swollen.

Despite administering pain relief, vets were unable to make him comfortable.

It is believed that the animal's injury may have been caused while running around the field at high speed, or suffering a fall.

Vet Dawn Trayhorn added: 'During my twelve years at Redwings, I have never had to put two ponies to sleep in one evening in the same field as a result of an emergency situation. This has been a devastating loss to the team and to the Sanctuary'.

Redwings' chief executive Lynn Cutress said it was 'likely' the incidents were the result of nearby fireworks displays.

'We are all so upset by what has happened to Sprite and Percy', she said. 'Both ponies were in their latter stages of life and normally very sedate, as well as used to living out happily all year round, so this behaviour is highly unusual and typical of stress.

'Although we can never know for sure, it is likely the incidents were as a result of nearby fireworks displays.'

'Sprite and Percy were much-loved, long-term residents of Redwings and both had come to us as welfare rescue cases – Sprite when found straying onto a road and no owner in sight, and Percy as part of an RSPCA case when found in poor condition – so losing them has been truly devastating.

'It seems to me that pyrotechnics have become stronger and louder in recent years so that means even so-called 'private displays' can still be very big and visible. It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations'.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary has produced a fireworks checklist for owners who are concerned about their horse during firework season, head to www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks

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