She’s a survivor: starved mare kicks up her heels

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Polly shortly after her arrival at The Horse Trust.
Polly shortly after her arrival at the Horse Trust. © The Horse Trust

A mare described as being the most emaciated horse ever seen at the Horse Trust has made a full recovery – but it has not all been smooth sailing.

Penny was found at least 130kg underweight. Photos: The Horse Trust
Penny was found at least 130kg underweight, and sadly survived only a few days after being rescued. © The Horse Trust

Polly is the sole survivor of the three emaciated horses found abandoned in Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire in February. With a body condition of 0.5 Polly was near death and the Horse Trust described her condition as worse than the survivors of Spindles Farm.

Polly was found by the RSPCA on February 28 with two other mares, and the Horse Trust appealed to the public for information about horses that had been micro chipped and showed signs of having previously being cared for.

One mare was so weak that she had collapsed. There was nothing that could be done for her and she was put to sleep at the scene. Polly and Penny were brought to The Horse Trust needing urgent care. Even with around the clock monitoring Penny’s condition continued to deteriorate and, sadly she survived little more than a week before the vet took the decision to put her to sleep to avoid her suffering.

Polly, a very affectionate horse, fought on, and Trust staff and vets remained focused to try to help her pull through. “It has been a long road, every day of the last 6 months has presented a new challenge and it truly has been a case of taking every day as it comes,” the Horse Trust said.

“Every time it looked like Polly was making progress there was another setback. Her temperature, pulse and respiration rates were abnormal and her weight refused to stabilise, every time she gained a kilogram it was lost within days. Rain scald and dermatitis were minor issues for Polly to contend with.”

Last week Polly enjoyed her first turnout in months.
Last week Polly enjoyed her first turnout in months. © The Horse Trust
But the welfare team persevered, and Polly herself proved to be a fighter. In early summer her condition slowly started to improve. Bit by bit hope for Polly was growing. It is tribute to the staff and Polly, that neither gave up and there were some tears on August 6 when Polly was turned out with the herd for the first time.

In recent weeks her weight had gradually and steadily increased and by late July had stabilised at a near normal weight of 466kg.

“Although we expect Polly to need extra care and attention for the rest of her life, her rehabilitation is, for the moment at least, complete.”

Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust said it seemed such a long time since Polly arrived at the charity. “Hers was a case of cruelty of the worst kind. Her condition was so terrible that we were never totally sure if she would pull through until very recently. Every day Polly enjoys from now is a bonus. It won’t be the end of treatment for her, but it is the beginning of her new life.”

The Horse Trust depends on the support of the public to look after the horses in their care. It is funded entirely by public donations. It costs the charity an average of £12 a day to look after each horse at the sanctuary.

To help Polly and other horses, visit or contact the charity on 01494 488 464 or

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