Duke the rescued thoroughbred has gone from rags to riches, winning a dressage competition five years after surviving one of the worst animal cruelty cases Britain has seen.
Duke, a 16hh black gelding, was rescued from the horrors of Spindles Farm in Amersham with more than 100 other horses, ponies and donkeys. They were found in the most appalling conditions, barely alive, crammed in foul, stinking stables and standing on the dead bodies of their companions. Thirty-four horses were already dead, but 115 animals were rescued in an eight-day joint operation mounted by UK welfare charities.
Duke arrived at The Horse Trust, a Buckinghamshire based horse charity, in January 2008 along with 13 of the sickest horses, ponies and donkeys rescued that day. He was only two years old and like most of the animals he was very sick, emaciated and suffering from life-threatening infections.
After intensive veterinary treatment and care Duke slowly began to recover, but his troubles were far from over. Duke developed sarcoids on his left eye and had to travel over 200 miles to the University of Liverpool’s Equine Hospital to undergo specialist treatment to remove the tumours.
Thankfully Duke’s treatment was successful but he went on to suffer recurring bouts of colic and had to undergo life-saving surgery at The Royal Veterinary College. This beautiful horse has been through so much in his short life, but thanks to his incredible spirit, the round the clock care and specialist treatment, he has overcome every ordeal.
Duke is now six years old and a happy, healthy horse and has now been backed and is living life to the full. This week he took part in his first show jumping and dressage competitions at Widmer Equestrian Centre in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire, winning the dressage competition with a score of 59%.
Not only was it his first dressage test but also his first time in an indoor school. Duke also took part in the clear round jumping. The Horse Trust has only three jumps with rustic poles, so Duke had never seen a coloured pole or jumped a course of jumps. However, he rose to the challenge and with the encouragement of his rider, the Trust’s resident trainer Jane Calvert, he popped over all of the jumps beautifully.
Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust said: “We are so proud of all that Duke has achieved despite tough start in life. We hope that this will be the start of a promising career for Duke and that he will go on to represent The Horse Trust as many more shows in future. Duke’s health problems mean that he can’t be rehomed, but we guarantee that he will have a happy and secure home at The Horse Trust for the rest of his life.”
The Horse Trust relies on donations from the general public to help care for horses like Duke. To find out how you can support website The Horse Trust visit www.horsetrust.org.uk or call 01494 488464.