The plea follows the traumatic experience of Gail Hunter-Warburton and her pony, Hamish.
Gail made a routine visit to her ponies in Wimborne on 3 March and was concerned when her mare, Siran, galloped over but little Hamish, who barely scrapes 10 hands high, didn’t move.
“I went into the field and he eventually came over,” said Gail, “but he was filthy as if he’d been rolling in mud. When he reached me, he collapsed on to me and fell to the ground. I got him up, but he collapsed again.”
Reacting quickly, Gail called her equine vet at The Barn at Three Cross who came straight out. Five-year-old Hamish had colic caused by compacted food in his intestine and efforts to clear the blockage were unsuccessful.
The severely ill pony was rushed to veterinary hospital while Gail stayed with Siran, who was frantic with separation anxiety because she and Hamish had not spent a day apart in five years.
“After she’d calmed down, I checked the field,” said Gail.
“I was horrified to see a tin foil plate with the remains of a roast dinner. Hamish must have pushed the plate back under the fence so couldn’t finish the meal. There was also a pile of potato peelings.
“This unfortunately isn’t a rarity,” said Gail. “I’ve found chips, crisps, chocolate and the usual apples and carrots thrown over the fence for the ponies in the past, despite the very large sign on the gate.”
The sign says in large red letters: do not feed the horses. There is also a clear and simple illustration for anyone who can’t read.
Aside from the heartbreak of nearly losing a family pet, the cost to save Hamish’s life was well over £5,000 said Gail. “Major surgery was followed by four weeks of veterinary care and Hamish had to be stabled for three weeks. He has only just been let out to pasture again.”
She added, “People need to realise the serious and devastating consequences of feeding other people’s horses. It has to stop and a law needs to be put in place to enforce this. Imagine the outcry if people randomly fed other people’s dogs.”
On the same day as the trauma, Gail said a member of the public approached the field with cooking apples and carrots. “When I asked what she was doing she said she fed the horses several carrots and apples each day because it gave her enjoyment.
“When I explained that it was very dangerous, she said she was doing no wrong and gave me the impression she felt it was her right to feed my horses.”
Even carrots and apples can cause serious problems to horses and “just a few carrots fed to a lamanatic horse could kill it.,” said Gail. “There is also a choke hazard – horses can’t vomit to get rid of indigestible food.”
Gail is adamant a law is needed to offer protection to horses. To voice your opinion write to email@example.com
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