The SSPCA contacted my neighbour, Bjørn, a few days ago, to ask if he could rescue some Shetland ponies that were in desperate need of help. Along with two other folk from other Shetland studs, we took our trailer, some head collars and food to go to the rescue. The ponies were situated in three fields in the north-end of the mainland (main island).
The first were four colts who were in a shocking state of neglect and starvation. They had eaten everything in the field and were down to mud. We could see there were at least a few bales of hay but the ponies needed to be moved quickly or they would be dead soon.
One of the ponies was immediately rehomed and we decided to return to the remainder after looking at and moving the mares, fillies and some more colts first. So off we went in a convoy to Hillswick.
With the help of a bucket of rattly pony nuts, we successfully caught the ponies and loaded them into various trailers. It was remarkably easy and we collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief.
These were not fields to go chasing errant Shetland ponies round that didn’t want to be caught. We would’ve been head first in the mud. The colts had nothing in their field to eat but the mares were not too bad. They didn’t look as bad as the previous ponies.
Everyone loaded mostly cooperatively.
So the mares and fillies went one way and the colts (plus a gelding) went another. We dropped them off to live in a 37 acre field that looked perfect for Shetland ponies.
(the view opposite).
We had to rush as daylight was at a premium and so we returned for the three remaining starved colts. They looked awful. We were all visibly shaken.
They were caught and loaded like little troopers. Sadly very wobbly on their legs and not in a good way at all. We took some of the hay to cushion their journey. It broke my heart to see just how subdued they were.
Jo drove slowly home hoping they had enough strength for the trip. We decided to take them back to my croft. My goat shed is empty and just the right size. It has a small paddock attached and then a bigger one leading off it. Before we unloaded the ponies, we set up the shed with rubber mats, hay, water and a bowl of foal mix.
You can’t really see the ponies’ condition from the pictures but their hip bones, ribs and spine were protruding prominently. I would give them a condition score of 0 and that is being generous. To bring them back from the brink is a big job. I am not sure whether we will be successful. They are all foals from last year and in a terrible state.
They need to firstly warm up, dry off and fluff up. Hard food will be given to them little and often with as much as hay as they want. That will keep their guts going and stop things shutting down. We mustn’t shock load their system. They are absolutely enchanting, though. I will keep you all posted but don’t hold your breath.
I must find out their names next.