Hello and welcome to the April issue of the My Lovely Horse Rescue newsletter!
It’s hard to believe that Easter is almost upon us. Harder still to stash Easter eggs around the farm with 60 pairs of goat eyes watching your every move! The sunshine is out and working its magic on us and a summer full of promise is just over the horizon.
In the first three months of 2022 we took in a staggering 115 animals. In March alone we rescued 28 animals and 16 animals found their forever homes. In our Arrivals Lounge this month, we would love you to meet Crysta’s new baby Gabriel while over in our Departures Lounge, we see Raspy & Pax go off to their forever home in Co Mayo
Our Story of the Month features our thoughts for Springtime as we become surrounded by new life
Our Day in the Life series features Isola, our Brown Roan Connemara friend who is living with Cushing’s Disease and Equine Metabolic Syndrome.
Could the stars of Our Mini Section be any cuter? This month we are introducing Steven & Amanda who have met and bonded so well at our main rescue farm
April is the month of Aries and with Aries symbolised by the Ram, we thought we’d give it up for goats in our Did You Know? section. This month we are looking at the role of Headbutting in Goat Society.
Check out our bargains from My Lovely Charity Shop and The Tack Shack and some heart-warming, feel-good photos and videos from Behind the Scenes at MLHR and MLPR.
As always, we are here for the animals because you are here for us.
Thank you for subscribing!
Crysta and Gabriel
With all the sadness that has been happening on the main MLHR rescue farm in the past few weeks it has been a desperately hard time for all our crew. As you may know from our social media pages we had to let the last of our Offaly rescues go last Saturday because she, like the others, just couldn’t fight anymore to survive the horror that had been done to her. Losing all 5 like that after we had fought so hard for them and loved them so much and willed them so hard to get better was truly horrific. Their names were Rene, Macey, Kylie, Sherman and Caspian. They deserve to be remembered because each of them was a precious being who deserved a chance at life and who instead only ever knew suffering and pain. Letting them go was heart-breaking but it was all we could do in the end for them and they themselves wanted to go because trying to live was too much for their weak little bodies.
Sherman and Caspian was such a sad parting because they had been rescued together from the same field, had been best pals and had clung to each other for comfort through their treatment. We had stabled them together but eventually Sherman couldn’t keep going anymore so we decided to let him go. As we waited for the vet to arrive that day we saw Caspian go to lie down beside his pal. He lay there with such a defeated look in his eye. We knew then that we had to let them both go together. Those terrible decisions can only be truly appreciated by those who have to make them.
Then into the midst of all this suffering and sadness bounded a tiny little being who lifted our forlorn hearts with his beauty, his energy and his innocence. Gabriel was born to our wonderful Crysta who is a Kerry bog pony, an Irish mountain and moorland breed of pony. She was rescued from a welfare situation in Cork where we took over twenty horses, many of whom turned out to be pregnant. She is the first of them to give birth. Her baby Gabriel is strong and healthy and bonny and to see him jumping around on his sturdy little legs, giving his tiny little jumps of glee has helped to start healing our broken hearts. Crysta was very nervous when she arrived first at the rescue farm as she, like many of the horses rescued with her, had not been handled very much and pretty much left to their own devices. She has proved though to be an excellent mother, very protective of her new baby as she watches his every move.
Gabriel reminds us that we must go on, that there is always another life out there who needs us. While we will never forget those we have lost it is because of them and their own valiant struggles that we must never give up. The five ponies above have only steeled our determination to go on. We owe them everything we have to make this world a better place for all their kind and we will never stop until we achieve that. And everytime we see little Gabriel jumping in glee and running around his Mom or gently sleeping beside her we know that their spirits live on in his wondrous beauty.
Raspy and Pax – Two pound rescues who found each other at MLHR Cork
Just before Xmas a couple of years ago our wonderful volunteers at MLHR Cork went to save 4 horses from the horse pound, three mares and a stallion. The mares were waiting patiently, happy to be leaving if a little nervous of what might lie ahead but the stallion was another case altogether.
He was kicking out all round him, the pound keeper had barely avoided being hit and it was obvious that this horse was not happy and could be difficult to load. Not a hope of putting him into a box with the mares so he had to be left for a second trip on his own later that day. He was a full stallion, 20 years old and with a bad hip, so this poor guy had issues.
The guys called him Raspy (short for Rasputin – to go with his personality!), a name which he really didn’t deserve eventually once he was gelded and cared for and his truly lovable character came to the fore on the farm.
Pax had come from the pound too but on a different occasion, a December rescue two days before Christmas. He’s always been a lovely horse and very endearing. He has a cataract in one eye so that when he looks at you he has to flick his fringe out of his good eye and put his head on one side in the most adorable fashion. He had been adopted before but for reasons later down the line had to come back to MLHR. We were worried that he would be lonely having this change again in his life so because of their comparable sizes and their personalities we decided to try him out with Raspy to see if they could bond. We couldn’t have chosen two better horses to pair up together and now they have been adopted by a wonderful lady in Mayo who has a little herd of her own for them to join. Raspy has been renamed Toby and has settled in fabulously with all the other horses. Pax has found a new bestie in the herd and as often happens though they are still friends they have each made new ones.
We know now that they have found their forever home and we are so happy for these two beautiful beings who deserve a wonderful life for the rest of their time here in this one.
Spring has truly arrived, you can breathe it in the air, feel it in the warm rays of sunshine on your face and see it in the lengthening evenings. The natural world too senses the change and is responding as always with colour and beauty. The earth is waking up after its hard, winter sleep and changing from sombre brown and grey to gentle hues of green and yellow. The trees, for so long bare and forlorn, have tiny little buds breaking through, showing us the promise of wondrous glories to come. The animals too are sensing the change all around them. You can hear it in the excited early morning chirping of the birds and see it in their delighted dipping and soaring through the air.
Little animals too are opening their winter weary eyes and waking up to the freshness of Springtime all around them, enticing them out of their warm dens and hidden places where they have slept patiently through the long, dark months. They begin to venture forth and head out foraging to regain the weight that their long winter’s nap will have taken from them.
The other animals who like us humans have stayed awake through the long cold days are rejoicing at the gentle warmth on their bodies and feeling hopeful as we all head from darkness into light.
One of the miracles of Spring in the animal kingdom is the birth of new life. We are surrounded everywhere by the promise of tiny little creatures being born into the dance of life. Baby fox cubs are already on the way, born blind and helpless and dependent on their parents for the next few weeks until they can emerge from the den and start to hunt earthworms and insects. The parents share the raising of their cubs and there’s nothing like the sight of fox cubs playing in a field, chasing each other like little puppies and being wonderful and boisterous without a care in the world under the watchful eye of their Mom or Dad. Badger cubs are already here with us though we won’t see them out and about until later this month. For now they are safe and warm inside the sett, the underground chambers lined with straw, grass and ferns by their parents.
Spring is of course such an important part of the farming calendar too. Land which has lain idle and suffered under the winter frost is now ready for growing again, seeds are planted, fertiliser spread and hopes abound of an abundant harvest with the right amount of rain and sun to speed them on.
Newborn animals have made their appearance on the farms too in recent weeks, little calves with their big, dark eyes which you simply melt into, their soft pink noses, their wide ears and fluffy foreheads, a picture of pure innocence.
The fields are full of baby lambs, jumping for joy on their little legs, cuddling together in the grass in twos and threes for afternoon naps, bleating and grinning as they skip around so happy with their little lives.
So why is it, that with all this beauty and innocence surrounding us, we choose not to protect it. We know that life has always been thus, that animals are hunted for both food and pleasure and that eating them is something that man has always done. Yet we can’t help feeling that this is no longer okay, that as humans we have to open our eyes and see what we are doing to the other creatures who share our world with us. There has to be a better way. There must surely be a kinder way to live, one that allows all of us to exist together and that lessens the suffering that life itself brings without us actually adding to the magnitude of it. Can we really derive joy and pleasure from baby lambs frolicking in the fields and then sit down to eat a traditional leg of lamb carved up for Easter lunch? Can we see the cuteness in a baby calf who would happily suck on your fingers and let you scratch him behind the ears but then allow them to be wrenched from their mothers and sent to slaughter at a few weeks old? Why do we not see the connection here?
Working as we do with so many different animals has taught us a new world view and many of us on the MLHR farms have come to see all animals as our friends, not just those that we hang out with. So we want to protect each and everyone of them. It’s a journey and one that each person must make themselves but it’s a journey that brings such a true understanding of what it means to be alive, for all of us and to see clearly that every life is precious. So perhaps this Easter, a time of rebirth and celebration of life, we can all take a moment to truly think about what life means and how much each life means to the individual who is living it. We may not be able to ask the wild creatures of the world or those who live on our farms what their lives mean to them but surely we can comprehend that just like ourselves, they are nothing without their lives to live. So who are we then to take it from them?
Isola is a 14-year-old Brown Roan Connemara Pony who was surrendered to MLHR in August 2020. More often than not, we have little to no knowledge of an animal’s background or life experience when they come into our care. With Isola we had some medical history to go on and this can give us a headstart on her treatment.
We knew that Isola had previously suffered from laminitis and it was clear from her arrival that she was very uncomfortable on her feet. Her soles were very soft which made them more susceptible to developing painful abscesses. Soles can soften from standing in too moist an environment for a prolonged period. For several weeks, her programme of care included daily soaking of her feet and applying poultices to draw out infection.
We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of such amazing Farriers and Vets on whose expertise we can depend to find solutions to the often complex health problems that arise for the horses in our care. Isola needed supportive shoes to help her distribute her weight evenly and over the last year she has worn shoes with extra padding, as well as boots and wooden clogs to try to ease her pain.
An x-ray of Isola’s feet in June 2021 showed evidence of past diagnoses of laminitis but this did not appear to be flaring up, there was no heat present in her leg which would be consistent with inflammation and the digital pulse in her foot was not throbbing as it would be with laminitis. She was allowed off box-rest and out into a flat paddock with no grass but curiously, her laminitis continued.
Around this time, we noticed she had a number of other symptoms we had previously observed in other horses with Cushing’s Disease – a progressive disease of the pituitary gland and affects the hormones which regulate bodily functions. Some of the symptoms include a long and curly coat, an increase in drinking and urinating and sweating. Blood tests confirmed Cushing’s Disease.
By December 2021, we suspected that Cushing’s Disease may not be the only condition affecting Isola. We could see unusual fatty deposits on her body which looked swollen. These can occur above the eyes or along the nuchal ligament in the top of the neckline (this is known as ‘a cresty neck’) and they are key symptoms of Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS).
Similar to Type 2 Diabetes in humans, EMS is an inability to regulate blood insulin levels. Horses with EMS are more likely to develop and take longer to recover from bouts of laminitis. In order to test her, Isola was sedated and a stomach tube was used to administer glucose directly into her stomach. Her bloods were taken before sedation and afterward and the results confirmed EMS.
What we do to help Isola
Isola needs to have a deep bed of shavings in her stable to keep her comfortable and allow her to take the weight off her legs. Thankfully we now have her laminitis under control but it took almost a year of box rest, trying different shoes until we found what worked best for her. She will need to continue wearing her special shoes to keep her legs in the right position.
Her diet is strictly controlled; her hay is soaked to remove water-soluble carbohydrates and all sugars have been removed from her diet. She enjoys her Supermash which contains everything she needs nutrients-wise and is safe for her to have without triggering the EMS. She cannot be out in the field as even a very short time spent eating grass and ingesting sugars will immediately set off her laminitis again.
An acute bout of laminitis causes her extreme pain so she has access to a large dry standing area and the company of other members of the herd who have similar ailments. Isola will need life-long supportive care, regular health-check ups and farrier work but she is doing well. If you would like to donate to Isola’s Veterinary and Farrier care please click the link below.
Welcome to our mini section where each month we will feature one of our smaller pony breeds for you. They can be so adorable yet feisty for their size and often well able to take on the larger horses who simply look bemused at these tiny creatures giving them attitude. Minis like shetlands and falabellas are often mistreated in this country, ridden by kids or adults who are way too big for them. We just adore all our smallies as we often call them and we look forward to bringing you their stories each month!
Our smallies this month are Steven and Amanda, the cutest little couple of shetlands ever.
Steven was found running around the streets of Wexford, only 7 or 8 months old, a shy little guy who was too young and innocent for the life that was no doubt ahead of him. Kindly rescued by Garda Steven who he was named after, he is the sweetest and cutest little fellow.
Amanda is a larger, black shetland and she very sadly lost her baby two months ago, he was stillborn. So she has taken Steven under her wing and now they never leave each other’s side. Watching them trotting off together everyday or hanging out in the hay barn would do your heart good.
We hope to rehome them together and whoever gets them will be truly lucky to have them in their life.
There are no lonely goatherds high on the hills at MLHR! We adore these curious, friendly, funny and affectionate animals. They live happily alongside the horses, donkeys and pigs; they are sure-footed daredevils who think nothing of scaling the dizzying heights of the hay bales or staring down a pony for a bucket of supermash.
We currently have over 60 goats in our care so it can be daunting for new goats joining such a big herd, particularly if they previously lived alone. It can take some time to settle in and adjust to the sounds and smells of other animals. Goat society operates on a hierarchical basis so we are sure to make new introductions to the herd slowly and monitor interactions until the newcomers find their feet. Our lovely Gus (modelling his lovely coat) joined the herd 5 months ago. He loves humans and he is very affectionate and he has a very calm and gentle way with the other goats.
It is essential that the animals in our care are free to express their normal behaviours even though we sometimes have to wince at the way they go about them.
Did You Know that Head-butting is an important form of social interaction that serves quite a few purposes in goat society? Goats will butt heads for a number of reasons – to maintain the position they hold in the herd or in a bid to elevate their position showing dominance over another goat.
They might butt heads when they are competing for food or affections but they also butt heads in play and for fun – quite a lot of rearing up on hind legs occurs without any actual contact being made. While Lancelot is our Alpha goat, Gordon Ramsay comes in at a close second. Our video shows Francis and Gordon Ramsay going head to head and you can see Gordon rear up on Francis and try to push him backwards off the yard. They lock horns and they tussle but miraculously both come away unscathed! Francis is a lover not a fighter and the majority of the herd live in harmony – one big happy family.
We pride ourselves on being dedicated followers of fashion – at an afforable price! With Spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, there will be wedding bells galore. If you, or if someone you know, is on the lookout for the perfect dress, our wonderful Volunteers at My Lovely Charity Shop would be delighted to show you the selection of beautiful dresses currently available.
The images below are just some of the elegant gowns we have in stock at the moment. They include a classic strapless gown with ruched bodice and sweeping train, a gown with a sweetheart neckline with delicate beading and floral lace overlay. We also have a stunning floor- length gown with floral embroidery on the bodice and an exquisite matching jacket.
Upstairs in the Tack Shack, we have fantastic offers on pre-loved rugs all in excellent condition from Amigo and Horseware Ireland.
We have a range of large rugs in stock for horses and donkeys and everything you need to keep smaller ponies decked out should the weather turn cooler again. Small rugs start at just €10.
If you fancy a leisurely browse, drop in to 81 JKL Street, Edenderry, Co. Offaly. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 10.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
We are looking for Volunteers to join our amazing team at My Lovely Charity Shop! If you are interested and can spare a day per week or per month, especially on a Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., please get in touch on 086 844 5076 – we would love to hear from you!
We are so grateful for the response to our Winter Appeal. Your support enabled us to provide food, shelter, Veterinary and Farrier care to so many animals in need. March was a particularly sad month for us as we had to say goodbye to eight of our beloved friends. We will cherish forever our memories of the years spent with Bruno at MLPR and MLHR’s Charlie our beautiful Basset Hound and Charlie our Stoney Grey thoroughbred who featured in our Day in the Life series in January.
Although they were with us for a short time, Macy, Caspian, Sherman, Renee and Kylie were family. Rescued from unthinkable cruelty in Offaly, these young ponies deserved so much more than they got from this life. While in our care, they had daily Veterinary treatments and round-the-clock monitoring by the incredible team at the main MLHR farm. Sadly the months of sustained neglect, cruelty and starvation had already taken their toll on these innocent babies and all five ponies passed away.
Our only solace is knowing that their time with us was filled with love, kindness and the utmost care. The darkest hours in last month have made us even more determined to fight for a country that is compassionate, has empathy and protects all animals, both wild and domestic. Every donation means the world to us. Every donation gives an animal a chance to have a life worth living. Thank you for your support.
Our farmies work from morning until night to keep the farms running and all the animals cared for. Between cleaning, feeding preparation, medical treatments and call outs, they capture so many moments on camera, from the interesting, to the funny and tender. Here are some ‘behind the scenes’ videos and photos from the farm this month. Enjoy!
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]
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