December Newsletter

by | Dec 1, 2021 | 10 comments

Issue 5

December 2021

Welcome to the December issue of the My Lovely Horse Rescue newsletter!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at MLHR! This is the busiest time of the year for us and we really rely on our supporters and friends to help us raise funds to help animals in need to get through the harsh winter. Our beautiful “Under the Mistletoe” themed Christmas Cards are now available and the MLHR Remembrance Tree has arrived and now has pride of place in the yard at the main farm. It will now be adorned with lights and decorations which commemorate the animals our supporters have loved and lost in their lives.  

The Remembrance Tree is like a beacon of light in the cold and dark winter. It is incredibly moving to stand in the yard in the quiet of an evening and reflect on how profoundly animals affect our lives. You can donate here to have the name of your animal family member or friend included on the tree. 

In the last month alone we have taken over 40 animals into our care and you can meet some of them in our Arrivals Lounge. This month we were heartbroken to have to say goodbye to one of our dearest friends Lyndon. He sadly suffered an injury that, despite all efforts, could not be overcome.  

Our Story of the Month features Grandpa John, an older gentleman who has survived so much and is now living his best life, loved and treasured by all of us. Our chosen rescue this month is My Lovely Pig Rescue and while we’re on the subject of all things piggy, our Day in the Life series continues with the story of our pot-bellied pig Elvis who is currently recovering from Dippity Pig Syndrome. With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we’d kick off the festivities with a Recipe for Marti’s Window Cookies and treat you to some Behind the Scenes videos and photos taken this month, just for you!

We are also very excited to share with you the amazing opportunity to win a three bedroom house in a raffle while also supporting My Lovely Horse Rescue and providing some badly needed funds to look after all our wonderful animals. See just below for all details and do share far and wide, we need as many tickets sold as possible

And so, as 2021 draws to a close, we would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas. We look forward to bringing you more news and stories from MLHR in 2022.  We are here for the animals because you are here for us. We are so grateful for your continued support. Thank you for subscribing.

WIN A HOUSE AND SUPPORT MY LOVELY HORSE RESCUE
Buy a ticket for just €23 and you could be in with a chance to win a beautiful 3 bedroom town house in Dublin’s Royal Canal Park.
There’s only 40,000 tickets to be sold and if we reach this target MLHR receives €200,000
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Arrivals – Dermot the Goat

Dermot, our new little goat arrival, is such a charming wee fellow and seems to be settling in quite well with the MLHR herd. It must have been quite a change for him to be amongst so many other goats after his life spent with only one companion who sadly died recently. If he was shocked when he arrived at our main rescue farm he certainly didn’t show it. He literally hopped out of the horsebox and went off to have a look at all his new friends in Goatstown. He’s only three and a half so still a young chap and like most goats is friendly and full of curiosity. Our herd is at 57 now so he won’t ever be lonely or short of someone to have a natter with. Goats are highly social creatures and naturally live in herds so Dermot is now assured of being surrounded by friends for life. 

Arrivals – Edie the little kitten 

We just can’t say enough about this tiny wee creature who has stolen our hearts and turned us all to mush! Little Edie is only about 7 weeks old and already she has been through so much. She was found last week and handed into a vets in Kilkenny where it was discovered that she was blind. We don’t know anything about her Mom or her siblings or where they are now which is really awful. We’re just so grateful to her Mom for caring for Edie and getting her this far. 

Edie is completely fearless, loves to play and cuddle like any other kitten. 

She is gone to the MLHR cattery where, as the pictures show, our farm manager Fiona’s family are just besotted with her. Fiona’s dog Finn is strangely very protective of her and Marco, her own cat is apparently delighted with his new sidekick!

Edie will be heading to our vets to have her blindness assessed. As can be seen though, whatever the situation with her sight, Edie is a very happy little kitten and we are proud to have her with us. 

Departure – Lyndon 

A very special star on our memory tree this Christmas

We are sharing Lyndon’s story with you because we want his memory to go on. He was too precious to be forgotten and we hope you will feel the same and never let his memory fade.

You may remember Lyndon when he first came to us last Summer. He was only a little foal then who had watched his mom Lydia being hitched to a sulky everyday and ridden hard through the streets of Kilkenny with absolutely no thought for her health or well-being or that of the foal she was nursing or indeed the new life she was carrying inside her. 

This was Lyndon’s early life, seeing his Mom roughly handled and whipped away from him as he waited all by himself each day to see if she would ever return. 

When she would return, sweating and exhausted, he would go to her for comfort and though so tired and underweight herself, she would let him gently nurse and he would feel safe again.

Then one terrible day she didn’t come back. He didn’t know of course that a wonderful Garda had seen his Mom on the street and rescued her and that she was now safe with us at our main MLHR rescue farm. He didn’t know that soon he too would be safe, that we would send that Garda back for him once we discovered that his Mom was nursing and had a young foal out there somewhere. He only knew that he was alone without the one individual who loved him.

Night drew on and still no sign. Lyndon grew cold and hungry and every sound through the long dark hours was terrifying without the comfort of his Mom beside him. Dawn broke and he awoke from his fitful sleep to the emptiness still all around him. What would happen to him if she never came back? What would they do to him, the men who were so cruel to his mother?

As the hours passed he hung his head low and tried to shut out the harshness and just think of her warm smell and her kind eyes.

As evening drew in again he heard a commotion, loud voices raised and then one voice he didn’t recognise, a woman’s, lower and calmer than the others but very firm and questioning. That voice came nearer and nearer with the louder voices following and arguing. Then the calm voice was standing right beside him. He looked up slowly and saw two gentle eyes looking down at him. The woman smiled, put a rope around him and with coaxing words started to lead him from the harsh place.

Lyndon and the woman walked quickly towards the entrance with the men following. As they passed a small, dark shed Lyndon heard a faint sound. He looked around and caught a glimpse in the shadows of a tiny dark pony. He knew this was the one his Mom had told him about, the one she thought was very sick and needed help. The kind voice walking beside him must have heard the sound too because she stopped and went towards it.

There in the shadows they discovered little Stefan only days from death his condition was so weak. More raised voices but the kind woman was very determined. She was taking this little pony too and soon both Lyndon and Stefan were on their way to the MLHR farm. We will be forever grateful to Garda Lydia, Lyndon’s kind rescuer who never gave up until everyone was safe. Going back for Lyndon that day saved Stefan’s life too. 

And so their little lives began in earnest. Lyndon was reunited with his Mom Lydia and we wish you could have heard the crazy joy in the neighing from both mother and son when they realised they were together again. Little Stefan received round the clock care from all our farmies and soon he too found a Mom, a beautiful white cob Mylene who took him under her wing and loved him as her own. They both made an amazing recovery and graduated from quarantine to the main yard, making friends and living the gentle lives they were meant to have. Lyndon proved to be an absolutely stunning looking horse as he grew up, with a personality to match. We all just simply adored him.

Then tragedy struck a few weeks ago. Lyndon injured his leg, perhaps by hitting it off something or from getting a kick from another horse, we will never know exactly how it happened. We have learned over the years that horses are all at once both very strong and very fragile and Lyndon’s bones may have been weakened from the harsh start to his life and inadequate milk from his poor underfed Mom. When the vet told us that there was nothing that could be done, that Lyndon would never be able to put any weight on that leg again, even just to walk, we were in total shock. We couldn’t believe there was nothing we could do. We didn’t care that he would never be ridden or adopted, he could have lived his whole life with us and all his friends but he would never walk and be in constant pain.  As the horrific decision to put Lyndon to sleep was made we were numb with grief and sadness for the wonderful life that could have been. We think back to the day when two small babies walked side by side from horror to a new life. 

After everything that Lyndon went through we find it so unfair that his life ended so soon. He was growing into a wonderful young horse and we were all so proud of him, none more so than his mom Lydia. 

We hope in our hearts that Lyndon enjoyed every single moment he spent with us. We could not have loved him more. He was our precious little boy and we faithfully promise him now to always look after his wonderful Mom Lydia and his friend Stefan, the little pony whose life he helped to save. 

Grandpa John

A rare old gent who has captured all our hearts but especially those of 4 very special ladies

The wonderful relationships we see being forged on our farms are part of the reason we do what we do. 

To see animals arrive to us, broken, dejected, alone and with no hope in their eyes and then to see them shine and thrive and grow confident just fills us with such pride and joy. We’re always interested to know who will bond with who and sometimes it can be the most unlikely of pairs. Those friendships and bonds of love are as much a part of the healing process as the food and the medications. They are what allows hope to live again and when you’ve been through what some of our animals have been through, hope is everything.

So we want to tell you about one of our oldest residents who in his later years and after facing death and surviving it has now regained his mojo and is gaining quite a little group of loving followers.

When we found Grandpa John he was slowly dying along with 10 other thoroughbreds (he was part of the group we rescued with our famous War Celeste).

He was standing in filth with no food or water, so emaciated and ill that the horse pound was going to put him and some of the others to sleep that day where they stood. What an absolutely horrific end that would have been for such a magnificent creature. Debs Kenny, one of our three founders, was on site that day and she was not going to let that happen. As she said at the time:

‘Was it not bad enough that he had been left to die in that hellhole, now it was also going to be the last thing he would ever see. There was no way I was going to let that happen.’

So she organised that MLHR would take the ones due for euthanasia and at least get them out of that place and bring them home, for whatever length of time they had.

Well, that was three years ago and Grandpa John is still going strong. It was a hard road for him of course at first. He was almost 20 years old, he needed a well handled re-feeding programme, careful worming that wouldn’t kill him and he needed his teeth done badly. Even back then he was spirited as our lovely equine dentist Maria found out! But he got his teeth done eventually – we actually had to sedate him to do it – and every day that he survived was another day towards his recovery. 

Now Grandpa John is our silver haired ladies man and he knows very much what he wants. He decides his daily routine. If you put him in a field where he doesn’t want to be he’ll be back to the gate to let you know about it. He may or may not come to you if you call him across the field but you’ll see his ears twitch and you’ll know he’s heard you. When he does come over he gives the best hugs. He loves his food and for a thoroughbred he is really tolerant of all the pigs and goats who share his home with him.

He is kind and gentle and truly magnificent looking and that has won him the heart of not one but four lady companions. 

The first was Summer who came as a foster mare for our little Murt but stayed when her owner didn’t want her back due to an old injury and we loved her too much anyway to let her go. She and Grandpa John found each other in the back stables yard and it was an instant attraction and just so unbelievably wonderful to see. We were so happy for him that he now had a companion for the rest of his days with us. It just felt right. They were our golden couple and watching them heading out together into the fields was pure magic. 

We may have been a little naive now looking back at the situation and thinking that’s great, Grandpa John is all settled now! Sometime later along came Abbie and suddenly the twosome became a threesome. This seemed to work perfectly and Summer seemed ok with it so we smiled at old Grandpa John who obviously still had what it took. Then April got in with the crew and finally Maria, the last – so far- and a truly gentle and lovely soul she is too. They all just love Grandpa John and also probably feel a certain security within the family unit he has created for them. Summer, as the first, certainly keeps the others in line and when they have to travel anywhere in the horsebox, she always travels with John.  You could never split them up and send them to different areas of the farm, there would be very loud objections all round.

Grandpa John is one of our very important farm personalities and when we think back to what might have been, it sends a chill through our hearts. But then we look at him now and we know that our forever rule – ‘if they can stand and get into the horsebox, we’ll take them’ – underpins everything that MLHR stands for. We are here to show compassion where there has been none shown, to give hope where darkness reigns and to do our utmost to give every animal we meet the chance at a life worth living.

After all, we all deserve that chance don’t we.

MLHR Medical Treatments – Dippity Pig Syndrome

MLHR started life as a horse rescue but over the last decade we have rescued animals of all species and we are now home to equines, dogs, cats, goats and pigs. In recent years, we have seen a worrying rise in the number of pigs being sold as pets in Ireland. Many are surrendered to rescues, others are abandoned or given away when people realise they cannot cope with a pig’s needs. The words “free to a good home” strike fear into our hearts as they significantly increase the chances that an animal will fall into the wrong hands and suffer abuse. 

At MLHR and MLPR, the pigs in our care are free to be pigs. We ensure that they live in an environment that is most suitable for them, with plenty of space to roam, root, forage, nest and with enrichment so that they can engage in all of their natural behaviours. They are so intelligent, so sociable, loyal and affectionate.

Little is known about pig illnesses in Ireland – many ‘commercial’ pigs are put to sleep once illness manifests but at MLHR and MLPR everything that can be done to help an animal rehabilitate and recover is done. This month we are looking at Erythema Multiforme, or Dippity Pig Syndrome, which is currently affecting Elvis, one of the beautiful pigs living at the main MLHR Farm. 

Dippity Pig Syndrome is a condition which is most commonly triggered by internal or external stress. Not all pigs will suffer from this syndrome but for those who do, it can occur just once or a pig may suffer from multiple attacks in their lifetime. Symptoms of Dippity Pig Syndrome can come on suddenly and they can worsen at an alarming rate. They include extreme sensitivity and pain along the spine and sometimes, an eruption of bleeding sores. Pigs may “dip” their backs in response to the pain and squeal in distress. In many cases, as the signals from the brain are not communicated to the rest of the body, they can temporarily lose the use of their hind legs in a matter of hours. Any number of factors can cause stress – a fall, a change of environment, a change of food or, as seems to be the case with Elvis, a sharp drop in weather temperature. Dippity Pig Syndrome is usually managed with medical intervention and the right environmental support. 

Elvis’s Story

Elvis is a two-and-a-half-year-old male pot bellied pig who was surrendered to MLHR in 2019 when he was two months old. He was only a baby but he was already the size of a medium-sized dog and he was growing fast. Elvis had been living with a family in Dublin who could not provide the right environment for him and could not care for him or meet his needs. The family took the responsible action of seeking help to find a suitable home for him and so it as that Elvis found his home with us. He has been a much-loved character since he came into our care. He is now approaching his 3rd birthday and is the size of two retrievers! 

From the moment he arrived, Elvis was at home in the company of the farm dogs and became accustomed to sleeping in their beds. He needed to learn how to be a pig and our beautiful boy and much-missed Wilbur took Elvis under his wing and taught him everything he needed to know. 

Elvis has been diagnosed with Dippity Pig Syndrome on three occasions. The first diagnosis came when he was very young and it was a shock as he had been in great health. He became unsteady on his feet and very quickly this progressed to him being unable to bear weight on his hind legs. It took almost 3 months for Elvis to recover fully. When he began showing  similar symptoms in 2020, our Farmies knew immediately what was happening and their early intervention was key to shortening the length and severity of his illness. While wobbly on his legs, he was still able to walk. 

Elvis is currently recovering from his third bout of Dippity Pig which began in October. Because our farmies know him so well, any changes in his behaviour, demeanour or eating habits are recognisable immediately. Even before he was diagnosed, they noticed that his ears were very cold and he was becoming a little unsteady. The change in the weather is clearly something that has an effect on Elvis and we need to be mindful of this when it begins to get chilly. 

Keeping Elvis warm is one of the key things we need to do when he begins showing symptoms. As you can see from the image above, one of our farmies fashioned an old jumper into ‘ear-gloves’ to help keep him warm. He takes his meals in bed, which we think is the only silver lining for him. He is given fluids by syringe, partly to monitor his fluid intake but also because he is unable to stand and access water by himself. Elvis needs to be checked every couple of hours through the day and night while he is recovering.

A calm and quiet environment is best for him so he is housed in a stable with a deep bed of straw, plenty of rugs and blankets and a heat lamp to keep him warm. In the first week of his illness, he lay on his side unable to move. Within four weeks he was able to push himself up on his front legs and sit himself up. Our goal is to get him up every day and to encourage him to move as much as he is able. Now, six weeks in, we are delighted to say he is able to stand by himself! He now has the company of beautiful Charlotte, a quiet lady who will happily snooze beside him and occasionally let him near the heat lamp! 

Facial Markings 

The MLHR herd is made up of equines of all shapes, sizes and markings. Much like human fingerprints, no two horses have the same facial markings. They are unique identifiers and they are named according to their shape and their location on the horse’s face. Perhaps you are familiar with the Blaze, Stripe or Star, as modelled by some of the herd members below. From the left we see Dawson and his beautiful Blaze, Louise with her Star and Stripe, and Ruby Rose with her beautiful Star. Some horses may also have swirls of hair on their body or face, called whorls. Whorls don’t change their location or direction throughout the horse’s life and so they are also considered unique identifiers. 

MLHR is home to two horses with a more unusual and distinctive marking called a Medicine Hat (modelled above by Sidney). The Medicine Hat marking is found in horses who are mostly white on their body but who have colour on their ears and the tops of their heads. They may also have colour around their eyes and sometimes one or both of their eyes may be blue. Native American legend holds that horses with a Medicine Hat were considered so special that only tribal chiefs, medicine men and great warriors were allowed to ride them. Horses with these markings were said to have magical abilities, bring good luck and could protect their rider. We first encountered these markings at MLHR when Sidney came into our care. He was just hours old when he was rescued and he needed round-the-clock care in those early weeks. The day he arrived was a lucky one for all of us. He is certainly a special man who charmed us as a newborn foal and he has not stopped charming us since! 

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.

This month we have Marti’s Window Cookies, these are a farm favourite and are always snatched up as soon as they arrive on the farm!

Ingredients:

  • 100g vegan butter
  • 140g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vegan egg alternative
  • 280g flour
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pack of hard candy, like fox’s glacier sweets

Method:

  1. Cream together your vegan butter, sugar and vanilla until they are light and fluffy, this may take a few minutes.
  2. Add in your vegan egg replacer and mix well. (I used Orgran No Egg Egg Replacer)
  3. Add in your flour, cream of tartar and salt and mix well. It can help if you add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches.
  4. Place the dough on a well floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin.
  5. Cut shapes out of your dough using cookie cutters.
  6. Place the shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment.
  7. Using a smaller cookie cutter, cut out a shape from the middle of the cookies. You can use the same shape or a different one, just make sure the edge of the cookie stays fully connected.
  8. Take one or two hard candies and place them in the centre of the cookie.
  9. Bake the cookies at 170°C for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Leave the cookies cool completely on the baking parchment before removing.
  11. Enjoy!

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.

Videos: Feeding time with the foals; Charlotte and Daphne having a duvet day; Savannah and Sebastian  enjoying their cuddles!

Their stocking is up and their letters are sent. Our three babies, Tarah, Tommy and Ben have been really good this year, they eat all their mush, they keep their stable pretty clean and they behave themselves – most days anyway. So they are expecting Santa to stop by and leave them some goodies which they promise to share with everyone so, Santa, don’t forget our precious piglets as you fly overhead.

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]

10 Comments

  1. Ruth

    Unless I missed it, perhaps you could also mention the charity Shop and tack shack in Edenderry? I’m a volunteer there now on Saturdays!

    Reply
    • Etain O'Leary

      Absolutely Ruth, we certainly will going forward. Great to have you involved!

      Reply
  2. Ann McConnell

    A great read as always.Many thanks to all of you.

    Reply
    • Etain O'Leary

      Thank you Ann!

      Reply
  3. Veronica

    Thanks to all of you. You do amazing work. Animals lives are saved as a result of your tenacity. It is a blessing there are people like you in this world.

    Reply
    • Etain O'Leary

      Thank you Veronica for your very kind words.

      Reply
  4. Anna Dolan

    Amazing tearful read. Stories written in a way that immerse the reader into the situation. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
    • Etain O'Leary

      Thank you for your lovely words Anna.

      Reply
  5. Sara Tyler

    Lovely to hear news of all the animals. Very sad to read about Lyndon which was so sad as he was so young but at least he lived to know love and kindness from everyone at MLHR. Good to see Grandpa John looking fit as a fiddle and so different from when he arrived. Hope Elvis continues to improve.

    Reply
    • Etain O'Leary

      Thank you Sara.

      Reply

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