The yearling was very small. He was standing on his own, knee deep in muck, head low, in the field beside the large housing estate. There was nothing to eat. Nothing to nibble on for entertainment, and definitely no grass. Definitely no water. The others had all been moved, presumably to better grazing, but this boy was obviously too weak to be taken.
It was January. Could not have been colder. And black. We parked the box and went in to find him. A tiny grey pony, maybe 11 hands. Broad head, honest face, plenty of good bone, gorgeous feathers. He couldn't react to us when we got to him, he had nothing left. He was all hollows under the thick coat, and face-on the narrowness of his chest made me catch my breath. We scanned and found no chip; our vet pronounced him near-death. We walked, supporting him, to the box. He loaded like an angel. We couldn't decide if he was the sweetest pony ever, or he just had no energy to fight. One of the volunteers travelled in the box so he wouldn't lie down. At the livery yard in Kildare we filled a stable deep with shavings. It soon became apparent that he couldn't support his own weight, we couldn't let him lie down, couldn't leave him alone.
Fionn was suspended in a hoist for 3 months. A My Lovely Horse Rescue volunteer was with him round the clock - he turned out to be the sweetest pony ever.
There are myriad risk-factors associated with re-feeding a clinically starving equine. The diet must be high-fat and low carbohydrate, keeping phosphate, magnesium and potassium at an optimum level. My Lovely Horse Rescue carefully designed a re-feeding programme for Fionn with frequent small meals of high-quality alfalfa. After a few weeks he became strong enough to have ten minutes of turnout. A more sweet-natured, affectionate pony you could not meet! The owners of the livery yard fell headlong for him and decided to adopt him! Fionn loves them and they love him. Exactly as it should be.