Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dead Horse Living

My husband would tell you I am obsessed with two things – animals (in particular horses) and Zombies (the Hollywood type that cannot communicate, move slowly and have no purpose in their life except the quest for food.

Seven years ago, I would have said my two interests had nothing in common – but then I met Mai.

Mai, an 18-year-old chestnut coloured thoroughbred mare came to me via an RSPCA inspector, as her owner could not afford to keep her. She was underweight, covered in lice and rubbed raw by her rug and she had a bad case of mud fever [when horses get mud around their feet, and it causes irritation around their lower limbs] on her heels.

Once at our home, Mai was alive, in the dictionary sense of the word, but she didn’t seem to acknowledge anyone around her. I would hold her bucket as she ate, bath her sores and stand and stroke her – but I can honestly say she never looked at or acknowledged me.

I tried hard not to take it personally, as I knew that whilst I brought her food I was also the person that covered her in lice powder and had to clean her painful scabs, which would probably not make me very popular.

Three weeks after arriving with me, Mai was standing by the field gate looking towards the house and making a terrible whinny noise, the first sound she had made and daft as it sounds I know she was asking for something from me and it wasn’t food.

As she stood there, I took her rug off and started to massage her all over. The thick woolly coat she has hung onto, until then to protect her starving frame, was now coming out by the handful leaving a carpet of hair on the floor.

And, as I groomed her, with my hands, as I had many times before, she decided it was time that she finally acknowledged my existence and she started to rub her muzzle against me and return the favour.

That was the day the light in Mai’s eyes came back – and instead of just going through the process of living, she decided it was worthwhile being alive
Mai, fully recovered and being a supernanny!

Six years on, Mai has become a permanent member of my family and a vital member of my fostering team. When a new pony has been through its quarantine period I usually match it up with Mai, who at 24 and going strong, could probably give Jo Frost a run for her money in the nanny stakes.

With food, water and veterinary attention most animals can be brought back to health but giving them a purpose and a reason to live and teaching them there is a benefit to being with humans is much harder.

By fostering an RSPCA equine not only are you teaching it the skills it needs to be rehomed but you are opening it up to a bright new future and proving that for them, zombie life is over – the future has more to offer than just struggling to find the next meal.

Jo Barr, Snr Regional Press Officer

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