Rescued: May 11, 2013
When we first met Jett, he just wasn’t the shape a healthy horse should be. Deformed, skeletal and with one hind leg close to collapsing, we had no idea how he’d managed to survive.
Members of an English walking club originally found Jett. The group happened upon him on one of their walks, tied up in an orange grove and severely malnourished, surviving on rotten food and rubbish.
A club member called us and, with the help of police, we were eventually able to convince Jett’s owner to release him to us. He was just two years old at the time.
We really don’t know how Jett came to be the way he is. We suspect he didn’t get the nutrition he needed from his mother to build his immunity as a young foal. Or perhaps he contracted a serious virus early in life. Whatever happened, Jett developed septic arthritis, which caused poor bone development, leaving him with severe deformities.
When we got Jett back to the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre, our vet said she had never seen anything like him before. X-rays revealed Jett doesn’t have any growth plates, which are the parts of the skeleton that determine how a horse should grow. Jett was still so young and not yet fully grown. Without these plates we had no idea how he would turn out.
The x-rays also revealed the shocking state of Jett’s hind legs. One leg was fused at the hock, but it was the other leg that really worried us. It appeared to be collapsing and the x-ray suddenly explained why – this leg was only held together by ligaments rather than the usual bone structure.
We knew then we had to be careful with Jett. We would have to protect him until he finished growing, when we would be able to operate and repair this joint.
We needed to castrate him to calm his hormones and we also fitted him with remedial shoes. This was life-changing for Jett. His legs became much straighter and the shoes gave his collapsing joint the support it desperately needed.
Amazingly, Jett grew faster and bigger than we expected. We had no idea how big he would be or how he would look, but in his strange way, he grew into quite a handsome animal.
His size also meant we needed to operate on the collapsing joint in his leg sooner than expected. So we drove Jett eight hours north to Barcelona, where our specialist surgeon Gasper Castelijns managed to rebuild his leg, inserting metal plates and reshaping the bone.
While Jett still has trouble with his other leg, this surgery gave him a chance at a more normal life. We still can't let him run with the other horses, but he has his own area where he's turned out every day. He's also become attached to one of our gorgeous mares, Rosie, who stables next to him, giving him companionship.
We still battle with the ongoing effects of Jett’s skeletal abnormalities. His fused right hock worries us, though we received great news in February 2017 when fresh x-rays showed the joint had basically redesigned itself. We were all flabbergasted at how Jett's body is seemingly compensating for his disabilities.
It's amazing Jett’s turned into the horse he is today. He’s fiercely intelligent, a big personality and has great inner strength – he couldn’t have survived his first two years without it. He’s a special boy.
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save horses like Jett, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.
– Story written by Kate Le Gallez.