Rocky start for tiny foal — charity’s 1000th rescue equine

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Fuzzy Bear’s filly foal needs a name, and the public have been asked to help. © The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

Britain’s Mare and Foal Sanctuary has notched up its 1000th rescue with the arrival of a filly foal on April 30, and she is in need of a name.

The arrival of Fuzzy Bear’s foal marks a historical milestone for the charity, which was founded by Rosemary Kind in Newton Abbot in 1988.

But soon after birth the youngster developed a life-threatening condition and needed five days in intensive care at Western Counties Equine Hospital.

Fuzzy Bear arrived with two other pregnant mares relinquished as part of a multi-agency rescue in Barnstaple, led by the RSPCA. Her filly foal was born late on Thursday, April 30, but quickly started to show the early signs of colic; tail swishing, being restless and agitated.

Staff called in Richard Frost, the Sanctuary’s vet, as her condition deteriorated. “When I examined the foal, she was bright and still interested in suckling from Fuzzy Bear, but the signs were starting to get worse. The retention of meconium — the foal’s first sticky droppings — is the most common cause of colic in new-born foals, so we started treatment and she responded well.

“Unfortunately, the following day she started showing similar signs again which made ‘meconium retention’ less likely to be the cause of her abdominal pain. Foals can deteriorate into life-threatening situations very quickly, so we made the decision to refer her for further investigation.”

It was found that the cause of the pain was a spasming of the foal’s urethra, which was preventing her from emptying her bladder. “A catheter was placed to allow her to urinate freely and she was monitored carefully over the next few days. Once the catheter was removed and it was clear that the foal could urinate normally, they were allowed to return to our sanctuary.

Fuzzy Bear and her foal back home at Honeysuckle Yard. © The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

“This has been a scary start to life for Fuzzy’s foal but there shouldn’t be any long-term damage and she should go on to be a strong, healthy foal,” Frost said.

Name suggestions invited

To celebrate the foal’s survival, and as a way of saying thank you to its supporters, the charity is inviting the public to suggest names for the little one, who has the protection of Sanctuary for the rest of her life. A name will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, May 18.

Since the coronavirus crisis, the charity has seen a significant reduction in income.  Its special appeal has raised more than £23,000 so far but equines are costly animals to care for, especially in complex cases like this.

Chief Executive Sarah Jane Williamson said reaching the 1000th rescue was a stark reminder of the specialist care the charity must still provide.

Fuzzy Bear and her foal back home.
Fuzzy Bear and her foal back home after five days in intensive care. © The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

“Fuzzy Bear’s foal is doing well now, but only thanks to the lifesaving treatment she received in our care and with the help of the veterinary teams. We thank everyone for their donations and messages of support recently, and we want Fuzzy’s Bear’s foal to be named by our supporters to demonstrate our heartfelt appreciation.

“We knew complications were more likely with our recent foals, as all their mothers were rescued from a case where the owner was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering to animals,” Williamson said.

She said the charity’s work to rescue, rehabilitate and retrain horses and ponies who have experienced neglect and abuse has changed considerably in recent years, with the rise in the intake of groups of horses and ponies from difficult and complex rescue situations, often in collaboration with other charities.

Today, it is responsible for the lifelong care of 671 equines, with 225 cared for at its sanctuaries in Devon and 446 on loan to carers. In 2019, The Mare and Foal Sanctuary took in 50 horses and ponies.

• Fuzzy Bear arrived at the Sanctuary with Lotte and Taylor.  Lotte gave birth to Lio on April 23 and the birth was captured on film.  Taylor’s foal, named Tulip, was born on April 25.

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