April 23, 2008

Lucky enjoys zooming around his paddock at the Blue Cross.

A one-week-old foal nicknamed 'Lucky' is thanking his lucky stars after being saved from a life of neglect and abandonment by animal charity The Blue Cross.

While in foal with Lucky, his mum Minnie and six other ponies were rescued from a neglectful owner and taken in by The Blue Cross as part of an operation involving the RSPCA and Surrey Police last May. They were some of the first horses to be protected by the Animal Welfare Act (2006), introduced in April last year, which requires owners to provide for the essential needs of their animal.

The ponies had been found in a state of neglect after being left to run wild in a small field in Staines. The field had very little grazing but was covered in poisonous ragwort and littered with rusting scrap metal and machinery, including abandoned vehicles. The fencing was made up of pallets, loose barbed wire and baling twine with exposed nails and wire.

Lucky at the Blue Cross.
Owner Edward Reay was ordered to pay costs of £6,000 and banned from keeping horses for ten years at a Staines Magistrates Court last month for his failure to move field hazards and provide proper fences for the ponies, and for keeping a stallion confined in a shed for several months.

On arrival at The Blue Cross, the seven neglected ponies were examined by a vet who found that Minnie was in foal. She was underweight, infested with lice and worms and had badly overgrown hooves. The vet was concerned that she may not carry the pregnancy without complications.

Fortunately, Minnie's condition improved drastically with constant care from Blue Cross staff and regular visits from the vet and farrier. Under close monitoring, her foal continued to develop as it should and its arrival was been nervously anticipated by staff. 'Lucky' was finally born at 11pm on Friday 11 April and thankfully he is in good health.

Vicki Alford, centre manager at The Blue Cross equine welfare centre in Burford, Oxfordshire, said: "Lucky seemed like the perfect nickname for the little foal, whose life could have turned out so differently. It's awful to think that these ponies were left to run wild and free to breed when they could barely survive themselves.

Lucky and his mum Minnie have a brighter future to look forward to with the Blue Cross.
"Thank goodness Lucky made it through the pregnancy and can now look forward to a secure future with The Blue Cross. He's only a week old but already full of beans and loving life!"

Lucky is guaranteed a lifetime of security at The Blue Cross, which always retains ownership of its horses to ensure they never fall into the wrong hands. He will remain at one of the charity's dedicated equine centres until he is old enough to be backed and trained in preparation to be placed in a suitable home, usually at about four years of age.

RSPCA Officer Alan Ramsey, who was involved in the rescue operation, said: "All credit to The Blue Cross - they were wonderful. The Burford equine welfare centre provided expert care and improved the ponies condition immensely up to their subsequent confiscation following the court case.

"I am delighted that the ponies will now be rehomed through The Blue Cross rehoming scheme and live happy contented lives."