Welcome to the November issue of the My Lovely Horse Rescue Newsletter!
We hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween and your pets did too! We are so happy with all the wonderful comments we’re getting on our newsletters. So welcome back to those who have been with us before and welcome to everyone joining us this month!
This month in our Arrivals and Departures Lounge we’re introducing you to some of the new faces at the Rescue and we’re waving a fond farewell to some long-standing residents who are setting off for their forever home. Don’t miss our Story of the Month where you can meet Rodney, a special dog and friend to all pigs. Our Day in the Life series continues with the story of Lee and his remarkable recovery, against all odds, from Laminitis.
This month’s Recipe is perfect for those cold winter days – what better comfort could there be than whipping up a batch of fluffy pancakes with caramelised apples! Our new Behind the Scenes section brings you photos and videos of goings-on at the farm.
As always, we are here for the animals because you are here for us. We are so grateful for your continued support. Thank you for subscribing!
Arrivals: Lilli and Charlie
It is always such a sad thing when an owner dies and their animals need to be found new homes. It’s hard enough trying to do that for cats and dogs so just imagine how hard it is to find a loving forever home for two retired ex-racehorses, a mother and son who the owner’s relatives really wanted homed together if at all possible as they were so bonded.
Meet Lilli and Charlie, two of the most beautiful, gentle and friendly creatures you could ever hope to meet. Lilli is 20 years old and at that age there are not many who would take her on. She’s of no use to anyone now, or that would be the general opinion unfortunately, even though she was a winner in her day. Her son Charlie, 11 years old, also won races but again it’s about his value out there now and if someone did want him, would they take his mom too?
It breaks our heart to see horses in these situations and when the cause is genuine we always try to help. So we welcomed both of them into the MLHR family and we will look after them always now. We may find a fosterer or even an adopter who will take them on but if not then we guarantee them a life worth living with us and that they will always stay together.
Arrival: Oscar the pig
As you all probably know, pigs are very dear to our hearts at My Lovely Horse Rescue, so much so that we set up our sister branch of My Lovely Pig Rescue (MLPR) to help rescue more of them and be their much needed advocate and champion.
Cathy Davey runs MLPR and is helping spread vital knowledge about pigs, their personalities and the care they need to live happy, worthwhile lives. So what better place for Oscar, the morbidly obese pig, to go to get a chance at any sort of proper life and hopefully shed some of those extra pounds.
Oscar was surrendered by his owners who through lack of knowledge and proper care had allowed Oscar to balloon to over 200kg. They were distraught and sought help which is always the right course of action when you have an animal in trouble. Oscar was even too overweight to load when Cathy originally went to collect him so she worked with the owners to help him shed a few pounds and then successfully managed to transport him to MLPR recently.
It’s not just the weight which is problematic, Oscar has become blind because of the extreme fat folds around his eyes and he is too old for them to be surgically removed.
This is unfortunately not the first pig Cathy has seen in this condition.
‘We’ve had several pigs come in in Oscar’s condition. It hurts your heart. A pig like him should weigh around 150kg but he is over 200kg. He’s now on anti-inflammatories to cool down his joints. He’s on soft ground, padded ground and he’s on supplements and oils.’
Already he has settled in well and as you can see from the video he is eager to chat to all his new neighbours. Oscar truly has a chance now, surrounded by love and people who know exactly how to manage his condition.
Cathy hopes that Oscar’s ‘cautionary tale’ will make people think twice before getting a cute ‘little’ piglet as a pet.
If you are thinking of rescuing a pig or feel that your home would be suitable to welcome one into then please contact Cathy at MLPR for advice and help and to see all the wonderful pigs she has ready for adoption.
Departures: Stefan and Myleen
Some rescues just take your heart away right from the start and never let go. Little Stefan was just such a rescue. We might never even have known about him except for the sheer determination of a wonderful Garda and some really good luck.
You may all remember Lydia, the sulky mare who was seized in Kilkenny town in August 2020 by our good friend Garda Lydia.
When we got the mare back to our farm it became clear that she was nursing and her foal would be too young to survive without her so Garda Lydia went straight back out on the search for the foal. Lyndon was found but as Garda Lydia left the site with him she heard a faint noise that very luckily made her turn around and search again. It was then that she found, hidden under a horse rug and tethered with a rope round all his legs, a tiny foal who was so weak he could barely stand or hold his little head up.
This was Stefan and if we hadn’t got to him that day he would surely have died. It took such a long time before we were sure he would make it, round the clock care from our farmies and lots of vet visits. He was so small he was just like a big dog and at first he wouldn’t eat anything and we were so worried about him because he was so sad and dejected.
Then he met Myleen, a 2 year old who herself had just been rescued from the horse pound and was so sweet natured. They bonded like mother and son and have been inseparable ever since. This nurturing helped Stefan to feel safe and to eventually heal. The video shows the two of them chasing after Kyah, Stefan’s ‘girlfriend’ and just loving life to the full.
Now Stefan and his step mom Myleen have been adopted together and we are just beyond thrilled for them both. This is why we do what we do and give it our all, it’s to get to these happy endings which make all the hard work and the many tears along the way worthwhile.
Rodney – our MLHR pog
Rodney came to the main MLHR rescue farm 6 years ago when he was only 2 years old. Already his life had been one of fear and suffering.
We were told that he’d been a farmer’s dog, used for herding sheep and that the farmer wanted rid of him because he thought Rodney was going to kill the lambs. We never learned anything else but when Rodney arrived on our farm it was clear that he was the one in trouble. He was absolutely terrified of everybody, humans and other dogs alike. There was something seriously wrong with this young dog that certainly wasn’t his fault and we suspected he’d been abused.
It took the efforts of both Eoin and Lisa, 2 of our experienced dog handlers, to get a muzzle on him that first day. Who knows what horror this young dog had gone through that resulted in his desperate, aggressive need to resist any close contact with anybody.
We got him a large crate to sleep in and put it in the farm kitchen. We sensed from the start that putting him on his own was not the way forward. That crate became Rodney’s safe place, somewhere to retreat from everyone, somewhere to look out from at the world that he was so frightened of. It was hard to know in those first few days what would become of Rodney. He was so shut down inside and his suffering obviously went very deep.
Then Rodney met someone who would literally change his life forever. He met Wilbur, our first ever MLHR pig, who just casually walked into the farm kitchen one day and changed Rodney’s whole world.
It was instant, the interest in Rodney’s eyes and the change in him. Here was somebody that Rodney wanted to be near. He took it slowly but you could see he wanted to be near Wilbur as he sniffed around slowly and Wilbur was quite happy just to let him.
So began not just one of our farm’s most amazing friendships but also a lifeline for Rodney. He decided he was going to be our POG – our pig dog. He put himself forward for the role of pig guardian and like a true working collie has never missed a day since. From early in the morning to late at night, Rodney guards our pigs and woe betide anyone who would wish them harm …. or actually just come anywhere too near them! So at pig feeding time Rodney is called and very obediently takes himself off into the kitchen and into his crate. He knows the routine and once feeding time is over, out he comes again. The pigs head off around the farm in different groups throughout the day so sometimes Rodney will be in the field with whoever is out there, other times he’ll hang around the yard keeping an eagle eye on those ones. Rodney has found his tribe and that instinct so deep within him to protect his flock shines bright every day.
Rodney loves all our pigs but Wilbur was always his bestie. When Wilbur had to go to UCD once for an operation Rodney pined until his return and literally ran circles around the jeep and horsebox to welcome him home again. Then in November 2019, we sadly lost Wilbur and Rodney was absolutely devastated. For those of us who know him well we would say that something perhaps changed a little in him that day forever.
The years have softened Rodney somewhat but whatever happened to him in those early days of his life has never really left him. Only certain people can go near him and he still spends his days with the pigs and will let you know if you get too near. But slowly he has gotten to know some of our other long time residents. He is friends with Lenny and Rebecca, two of our farm dogs and amazingly, at an older age, has started to learn how to play. Debs, one of our co-founders, could hear noise in the kitchen one night after everyone had gone to bed and went down to find Rodney playing with a shoe. So now we leave toys out for him. Some nights they will have moved, others they won’t. It just depends on whatever mood Rodney is in but we just love the thought of him down there having great fun. If Eoin is out walking the fields with some of the dogs, Rodney will often come running across the fields and walk around with him, something impossible to imagine in the early years.
Rodney has shown us so much. He’s shown us that you should never give up on anyone, that recovery can be painstakingly slow and may never be perfect but that life can be lived in all different ways and we as rescuers are here to help each single rescued animal to find their place.
Every night now, Rodney sits in the kitchen, sometimes in his crate or sometimes in one of the dog baskets. He sits there surrounded by people who know and love him for exactly who he is, people who don’t demand anything more than he has to give and people who appreciate the very unique little soul that is our wonderful Rodders.
MLHR Medical Treatments
This month we are looking at Laminitis, a common but extremely painful condition. It is among the most worrying conditions we encounter at MLHR because even when immediate action is taken and all efforts are made to treat it, it can still prove fatal.
From the diagram of a horse’s hoof we see it has two layers: the hard outer hoof wall which is made of keratin, and an inner sensitive layer called the laminae, behind which the pedal bone (or coffin bone) is located. The laminae are full of blood vessels and nerves and they hold the pedal bone in place and support the horse’s hoof and lower leg.
Laminitis occurs where there has been an interruption in the blood supply to the laminae causing them to become inflamed and to separate from the hoof wall. If there is no support for the pedal bone, it can rotate away from the hoof wall and drop down towards, and in some cases through, the sole. Laminitis can progress very quickly so early intervention is key and we are always on the lookout for any indications of lameness in the herd.
While a field full of lush green grass might seem to be the ideal environment for equines, in reality everything should be in moderation! A horse with unrestricted grazing on fresh grass will be at risk of developing laminitis because of the high levels of sugar and starches (particularly fructans) in the grass that the animal can’t metabolise. The overload of sugar in the digestive system can cause damage to the lining of the gut and the release of enzymes in the laminae that can trigger laminitis. Laminitis can also occur following trauma to the foot from prolonged exertion on hard surfaces, or it can develop as secondary infection as was the case with our beautiful boy Lee.
Lee is 7 years old, a skewbald cob who was rescued by MLHR in 2019. He and another companion, Harper, had been abandoned in a field in the Wicklow Mountains. Lee spent some time at the farm recuperating before beginning his training to be backed as a riding pony. While on a break back at the farm from his training, he inadvertently caught himself on hedgerow and suffered a deep cut to his hind leg.
He was put on a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and was placed on box rest but within a day of his injury, we knew something else was wrong. Lee was very uncomfortable, shifting his weight, leaning right back on his heels – doing what he could to avoid putting weight on his forelegs. His digital pulse, which can be felt in his foot, was throbbing and there was a lot of heat in his feet. Unfortunately he had developed laminitis.
Lee had painful abscesses on both of his front feet which were treated by giving him daily warm water and epsom salts hoof baths. Once his feet were dried, a poultice with iodine spray was applied to the base of his hooves to help draw out any infection in the hoof and also to prevent the onset of any further infection, such as thrush. His stable had a deep bed of shavings and his heart rate, comfort level and daily appetite were monitored several times a day.
Initially, Lee wore raised heel boots with a wedge in the base to help to take the pressure off his feet and reduce the downward pressure on the pedal bone from the deep digital flexor tendon. The base of the boot provided him with an artificial extra sole to support him while his own sole grew thick again and was strong enough to ensure the pedal bone would not penetrate the sole. To take any extra pressure off his legs and to avoid the need to bend down, Lee’s hay was kept up high. His physiotherapy incorporated carrot stretches which helped him to engage and strengthen his muscles and once he was not experiencing pain, he was walked-out twice daily with his boots on in a padded area.
X-rays were taken to check the progress of his sole growth and the position of the pedal bone and the next step was for the boots to be removed and for our farrier to apply Formahoof resin to Lee’s front feet. In humans, applying Formahoof would be like dipping your fingers in candle wax and having a protective coating form over the skin. Formahoof moulds around the hoof wall and sole providing support but it is flexible enough to allow the hoof to move naturally.
Once Lee was cleared by our vets, after over a year of treatment, he went to a foster home where he had access to a sand arena. Sand is an ideal surface for horses and ponies who are recovering from laminitis as it moulds around the sole and supports it in a way a hard surface does not.
Lee is now back living happily with the herd at the main MLHR farm without shoes or heel boots. His soles have thickened and there is enough growth below the pedal bone to cushion him when he is out in the field on softer ground. Horses who have had laminitis are more at risk of the condition recurring, so Lee will continue to be monitored very closely.
It has been a long and challenging road for Lee and against all odds, he has made an incredible recovery. We are delighted to see him back on top form.
We are truly indebted to the wonderful team of carers, vets and farriers for their expertise and guidance, and for their patience and unwavering commitment to doing everything possible to treat Lee and restore him to full health.
We are so grateful that we get to work with this network of incredible experts who support and believe in what we do. They fought for Lee as much as we did. Like us, they never gave up on him.
How Horses see the world
Horses use a combination of monocular and binocular vision to navigate the world around them. Like other prey animals, the positioning of eyes on each side of the head gives them monocular vision on both sides of the body.
As shown in the diagram, horses simulatenously receive and process two completely different and sweeping views of their surrounding area. They can easily detect any movement or potential threat and make a quick getaway if needed. We have a working theory that members of the MLHR herd can take one look at us from a distance and determine whether we are craftily concealing treats or the smallest of oral syringes filled with wormer!
Horses cannot see objects closer than 4 feet in front of them or in the area directly behind them. If they are approached from the front, you will likely see them raise or lower their heads to better focus on what is before them. They can easily startle and react defensively if they can’t see or hear you approach but it’s always important to monitor their body language – even when they know that you are there. Be calm, speak in a gentle voice and aim to approach diagonally from the front or side-on at the horse’s shoulder where you are in full view.
Beyond 4 feet in front of them, horses use binocular vision to focus and gauge distance and to determine their route forward. They can switch between monocular and binocular vision giving them an impressive 350 degree vision.
Subtle changes in body language, in the positioning of head, ears, neck and facial expressions communicate so much about the horse’s mood. If the horse’s ears are pinned back, or the whites of the their eyes are showing it’s wise to give the horse space and leave making friends for another day.
Fluffy pancakes with caramelised apples
As part of our mission here in My Lovely Horse Rescue we are trying to promote greater awareness of all animals’ needs, not just horses but especially the farm animals of the world who have such short and miserable lives before they go on their final journey to slaughter.
Many of us in MLHR have begun our vegetarian and vegan journeys over the last few years, inspired by the animals we’ve met on our farm bases. Something we’ve all learned is that every little counts and every time you opt for an animal-product free meal you are making a difference – even if you can’t do it everyday. We want to inspire as many people as possible to go on this journey with us, so every month we’re including a different vegan recipe for you to try out and enjoy.
As the cold sets in this month there’s nothing we love more than homemade fluffy pancakes with caramelised apples, we hope you do to!
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp oil + more for frying
How to make vegan fluffy pancakes:
- Mix the non dairy milk and the apple cider vinegar in a bowl and set to one side.
- In a seperate bowl mix together the four, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Whisk the oil into the wet ingredients.
- Add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and gently mix. The aim here is to try to get rid of any large amounts of dry flour but to leave small lumps of flour in the batter – if you overmix and the batter become smooth the pancakes won’t fluff up in the pan.
- Add a small amount of oil to your pan and play on medium-low heat. Heat the pan until a test drop of the pancake batter sizzles in the pan.
- Use a large spoon or a ladle to spoon batter into the pan.
- Leave them to cook on low heat. They’re ready to flip when bubbles rise to the surface and pop and when the edges look cooked.
- Use a spatuala to flip the pancakes and continue to cook them for another minute.
- Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack before eating.
Want to add caramelised apples on top? Watch this video to see our recipe for caramelised apples!
For weeks we’ve been feeling that sharp drop in temperature signalling that winter was on its way. The clocks have now gone back and for animals all over Ireland this marks the beginning of months of unthinkable hardship, neglect and starvation. Winter is the busiest time of year for MLHR as we respond to report after report of abandoned animals struggling to survive in freezing conditions, with no access to food, water, shelter or medical care.
MLHR is here for animals 365 days a year but we need your support more than ever to give these animals a life worth living. We recently launched our Winter Appeal with a goal of raising €150,000 to see us through this particularly difficult period. Our running costs last year nearly reached a staggering €400,000 with basic necessities of hay, feed, medical and farrier care accounting for over half of that figure. With over 500 animals already in our care across our three farms, this number will rapidly increase during winter as we take in sick and injured animals in desperate need of our help.
Your love of animals and your support means the world to us. Please help us provide a home, food and medical assistance to the animals in our care. Please donate what you can to our Winter Appeal.
Our farmies work from morning until night to keep the farms running and all the animals cared for. Between cleaning, medical treatments and call outs, they capture so many moments on camera, from the interesting, to the funny and beautiful. Here are some ‘behind the scenes’ videos and photos from the farm this month.
L: Nicky and some of the herd enjoying a sunset supper.
Top: A visit from the Equine Dentist. Bottom: Pack leader Rebecca overseeing the morning hay run.
R: Freda getting her dose of Vitamin D for the day. That smile!
L: Ponies queue up to go for a spin in the horse van.
Middle: Johnny D having an epsom salt hoof bath and enjoying some much needed TLC.
R: Happy heads enjoying a peaceful and quiet evening at the main MLHR farm!
It’s terrifying to witness an act of cruelty against a defenceless animal or to see an animal running loose in the street perilously close to oncoming traffic. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to know what to do, who to contact, and to know what information will be important to share. MLHR is on hand 24/7 all year round to be the voice for animals. Every day we receive reports from all over Ireland of animals (of all species) who are straying, who have been abandoned, or who have been the victims of intentional neglect and abuse.
Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, only Authorised Officers (An Garda Síochána; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Inspectors; and County Councils/Local Authority Inspectors) are permitted to seize animals, to enter private property, to carry out investigations or to bring prosecutions. MLHR assists Authorised Officers with their work and for this reason, it is vital that members of the public reporting incidents to MLHR also report to the relevant Authorised Officers so that we can liaise with and help them move animals out of harm’s way and into safety.
What you can do
1. Provide us with a description of the animal(s) at risk and the nature of the incident.
2. Send us a pin drop or accurate description of the location.
3. Take Photographs/Video footage but only if it is safe to do so
4. Tell us which Authorised Officer or Garda station you have contacted.
How to make contact with Authorised Officers
• An Garda Síochána – A list of Garda stations is available online at https://www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory/
• Local Authorities (for incidents on Public land) https://www.gov.ie/en/help/departments/#local-authorities
• ISPCA for emergencies call 1890 515515 (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Welfare concerns can http://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint
• Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – for incidents on private land phone 01 607 2379 or 0761 064 408 or email [email protected]