According to them the horse had been there several weeks and had not been given food or water. They had been trying to help by offering the horse food but didn't realise just how malnourished and desperately ill the horse was. They were also fearful of the repercussions that could come from the owners of the horse if they reported it to the police.
We told them to call the police because unless we had permission from them there was nothing that we could do, thankfully the police responded to their call and went out to see the horse.
The police were appalled by the sorry state this poor horse was in and called us, they said that the horse needed a vet urgently but that they had to get permission from the owner and that they had managed to track this man down after finding a car registration plate on the land and they were waiting for him.
When he arrived at the plot he was nonplussed by the fact that this horse was dying and said that he had a vet who would come out. He obviously thought everyone would go away but he was wrong, the police refused to leave and said they would be staying until the vet arrived. The owner then said he couldn't get hold of a vet and so was forced to allow the police to ask for our vet to attend.
Would he really have called a vet?
We asked our horse vet Dorothea to go along and assess the situation. What she found was heartbreaking, a once beautiful and noble mare left abandoned and lying down on cold, hard ground having no strength to stand. She was being starved of food and water, dying a slow and painful death. Her skeleton visible beneath the paper thin skin, she had bald patches caused from untreated wounds and infections and open wounds over her hips where the bones had come through.
Pandora as we named her, was not a young horse and had obviously been used as a brood mare, a baby factory producing foal after foal until no longer able to conceive and then too thin to sell for meat she had been locked away. Day after day no one caring, no one coming, her fate was sealed within the locked gates.
Dorothea called us, after assessing Pandora's condition she said that she stood half a chance of survival if she could make it to the centre and that she would do everything possible to get her to her feet again. If that was not possible then she would help Pandora to pass away without pain and not alone.
Dorothea and her colleague spent the next few hours putting Pandora onto a drip that we hoped would give her the strength that she was going to need to make even this short journey, a journey to save her life. Thankfully it did help to give her the strength to be able stand and make her way to the trailer where we could transport her here to the centre.
When she arrived at the centre she came out of the trailer exhausted by the journey but still she made every effort to get to the warm and comfortable stable we had prepared for her. Pandora collapsed at the entrance to the stable. We all had tears in our eyes as we looked into her huge brown eyes. We stood over her wondering how we could ever help her to stand again.
Suddenly she made a massive effort to stand and with our help she managed to get to her feet once again. It is almost impossible to describe the feeling we had when Pandora was finally on her feet and even though she was having to be propped up having used the last of the little strength she had to stand this brave girl hadn't given up. We hoped that she knew we would never give up on her, but we also knew that if she lay down again that would be the last time.
Pandora was given water, food and the medication she needed and we left that evening praying for a Christmas miracle.
Even though it was a very cold night, Sue the co-founder of the rescue centre slept outside in Pandora's stable, making sure she had all the care she needed. Without doubt it is Sue’s dedication and care that helped Pandora through that first night and subsequent days and nights.
We all fell in love with the kind, gentle old girl and when tests revealed just how poorly she was with no hope of recovery after what must have been years of mistreatment and malnutrition and sadly with no hope of having any quality of life free from pain we made the heart breaking decision to put her to sleep.
The prop was removed and she lay down, not on the hard cold ground where she had been abandoned but in a warm dry stable. She wasn't hungry, she wasn't thirsty, she wasn't in pain and she wasn't cold and alone. She was tired and ready to go to sleep but she was surrounded by people who cared.
Sadly, sometimes as with Pandora we are just too late.
Rest In Peace Pandora.