When rescuers with the British Horse Society rushed to a building site in East Durham, England, after receiving worried calls about a possibly dead horse, they were stunned when they approached the area. It was nauseating to see.
They found Heidi, a pony who had been so severely neglected that she appeared to have melted into the straw packed into the disgusting pasture. Her bones jutted out and her hair was missing in patches.
As they crept closer to the pony, they realized she actually was barely breathing and snapped into action.
“The decision was made to give her a chance and it took five people to lift her to her feet.”
Wendy Suddes, a horse welfare and education specialist who launched the Here4Horses Charity, said that Heidi was found in the most appalling condition.
“When rescuers turned up, they met with a knackerman who had been called by the owner to come and collect her body. Whether he thought she was already dead is irrelevant—she had been subject to the most awful suffering.”
Heidi was declared critically ill, unable to stand let alone walk. She was barely hanging on to life.
It would take a miracle to save her.
“The early days were touch and go, as we dealt with her serious weakness and such a low blood protein level that a plasma transfusion was required.”
The only chance Heidi stood was to receive a plasma transfusion since her blood test confirmed she was emaciated. Several liters of blood were donated by healthy horses in an effort to save her.
It took more than five weeks for the poor pony to be able to stand by herself. She struggled, but she proved she was a fighter all throughout her treatments.
Heidi was draped in padded dresses to protect her from developing even more pressure sores than what covered her delicate, frail body. Volunteers snipped leggings into shorts.
The road ahead of her was rough and volunteers began to have their doubts if she would survive.
“Too many sores, worms, parasites and infections had been given time to take hold and it took months and months to get Heidi well enough to run free in our pastures.”
Even though she was barely breathing, volunteers discovered she was “feisty.” They credit her spunkiness and perseverance for her survival.
She had to want to live. She showed them she did.
There was a glimmer in her eyes and a bit of sass seeped out of her. That proved to the volunteers that she was ready to fight for her life.
“Whilst we do see this level of harm and illness all too often, it is plain and simple cruelty or ignorance of horse knowledge and care or how to properly meet their needs.”
The organization sees only one or two such severe cases each year. Every time, it’s gutwrenching. Not every animal survives such horrible conditions and severe health issues.
But Heidi did.
As time passed by, Heidi gained weight, grew stronger and more confident. Her mane and tail grew back lush and thick and her coat became glossy once again.
The transformation from near death to spirited pony galloping around the paddock is simply amazing!
In fact, she went on to become an award-winning pony in the show ring!
Watch the video below, the first in a series of four, that document Heidi’s magical metamorphosis from near-death to spirited show pony. It’s incredible!
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