“He looked like a skeleton” – welfare officer

Matty at the scene of his rescue. Photo: Redwings
Matty at the scene of his rescue. © Redwings

An emaciated foal was just days from death when rescued from a British field with a horrendous maggot-infested wound on his leg, a charity says.

A member of the public last week reported the foal, thought to be about eight weeks old, to Redwings’ welfare team as she had seen him lying down and struggling to get up.

Senior field officer Julie Harding went straight to the field in Diss, Norfolk. Although the young cob was back on his feet, she could clearly see he was in distress.

The dark grey foal was severely underweight, and had a serious injury down the back of his hind leg that had been left untreated. It was covered in flies and maggots.

Harding immediately called one of Redwings’ vets, Nicola Berryman, who attended along with local RSPCA inspector Nicky Thorne.

“On examination the vet found him to be body condition score 0, which means he was completely emaciated,” Harding said.

Matty's leg wound was infested with maggots. Photo: Redwings
Matty’s leg wound was infested with maggots. © Redwings

“He looked like a skeleton. He was covered in matts and burrs and was incredibly thirsty, so much so that despite his pain, when we produced a water container and he heard the water pouring into a bucket he immediately brightened up and tried to make it over to us.

“There was a river in the field but, although the other cobs in the field were able to walk down the bank to drink from it, he was unable to because of his leg.

“He drank five litres of water and rehydration powder in one go.”

Matty, as he has been named because of the state of his coat, was brought straight to Redwings’ specialist horse hospital south of Norwich.

When staff cleaned and washed his leg, they found that the maggots had even got under his hoof capsule, which was coming away from his foot.

Berryman said: “I cannot imagine the amount of pain he would have been in.

Matty after a cleanup at Redwings. Photo: Redwings
Matty after  his leg was  cleaned up at Redwings. © Redwings

“The maggots were eating away at the flesh inside his hoof. The number of maggots and flies present indicate that the injury had been like that for at least a couple of days.

“He was most probably dumped in this condition. This is the first time I’ve ever given a body condition score of 0 – it’s completely unacceptable. Without our intervention he would certainly have died within a day or two.”

Little Matty stood beautifully while the vets did their thing.

Despite extensive investigations by Barding and the RSPCA inspector, no owner could be located, and there was no trace of Matty’s mother in the area.

Matty is now being cared for by the charity’s vet team and is making good progress.

Matty is said have the cutest eyebrows. Photo: Redwings.
Matty is said have the cutest eyebrows. © Redwings

Anyone with information about his owner is asked to contact the Redwings Welfare team on 01508 481008.

Thorne said: “This poor foal was completely neglected and would not have survived much longer. We would like to hear from anyone who knows who this foal belonged to. This kind of cruelty is simply appalling.”

Harding continued: “In all my years this is genuinely one of the worst cases I have ever seen, simply because he was so close to death.

“Sadly, Matty’s is by no means an isolated case. We are increasingly seeing young colts in particular being abandoned when they are no longer wanted.

“I am just pleased we were able to get to him in time and we are so thankful to the lady who reported him to us in the first place.

“Despite his pain, he was clearly determined to survive; he has been a star patient throughout and is already looking brighter every day. He also has the most amazing eyebrows we have ever seen!”

Redwings would welcome donations towards Matty’s care, text code RWHS00 followed by the amount to give (eg RWHS00 £5) to 70070, or call the charity on 01508 481000, or visit its donations pages.

3 thoughts on ““He looked like a skeleton” – welfare officer

  • October 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    This is sick. What a beautiful little foal, I hope the rest of his life is peaceful and full of love.

    Big shoutout to everyone who has helped an animal.

  • October 12, 2013 at 3:16 am

    So happy to hear this baby is going to be OK. Animals know and appreciate when they are being rescued, and they have a special way of showing it. Matty is adorable and hopefully he will have a great life from now on. Would love to see photos when he has filled out.

  • October 13, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Poor wee soul ! How lucky that he was seen by someone who cared ! When you see how poor horses can be in some other countries, and still are being used to work, simply because their owners depend upon them to make enough of a living to feed their children, it is amazing how emaciated they can be, and yet recover given the proper care.


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