When a member of the public contacts ASHA to air their concerns about a horse, pony or donkey they have seen, we will do our best to investigate their concerns. If this is within our area, one of our 'Canton Teams' will try to locate the animal/s and then make a report before deciding on what further action, if any, needs to be taken. Please see below for examples of how this works (names and locations have been deleted for legal reasons....
Donkeys with long feet.
First visit – Madame said would talk to her husband the owner.
Telephoned again and told the matter was in hand.
Member of the public reported there was now only one donkey and feet still not trimmed.
Owner was contacted and asked for assurance that they would be done within the month – he said yes.
It was reported that the feet had not been trimmed. The owner was contacted and said they would be done “next week”.
Visited owner to see if donkey had been trimmed. He said it would be done at the end of the week!!
We pointed out that due to the length of the overgrowth, it would need a qualified marechal to do them properly. He said the marechal was coming to his neighbour who has horses.
We then visited the neighbour who said she would suggest to the owner that her marechal could trim the donkey next time he came to do the horses on the neighbour’s property. Apparently many of the neighbours had already warned the owner of the donkey that the ‘services veterinaires’ might have to get involved.
We were delighted to learn that the donkey was trimmed (not without difficulty!) and hopefully will continue to be trimmed.
A horse was reported by a member of the public as being “ skeletal”. On our arrival the horse was in the distance in a very nice pasture with grass and trees. On trying to get closer, we were able to drive into his field (i.e. there was a single strand wire gate but it was open).
Horse incredibly thin. Noticed skin stretched taut around stifle area – dehydration? Feet in need of trim, but had obviously been trimmed many months earlier. Coat very bad (rain scald? Or winter coat?) Sore on inside of right hind pastern. Eyes seemed okay but loads of flies. Not interested in water (in fact didn’t like sound of water going into bucket, but came back when offered apple). Initially not interested in hay, started pawing it (we thought he was going to lie down) then got started eating and did so with great gusto for the rest of out visit.
On closer inspection of the enormous paddock (grass available) we found a water butt with a good coating of slime on the walls below water level. The ball cock was above water line, so water obviously not running when we were there, but there was water in the butt albeit full of mosquito larva and various other forms of life. There was also a couple of feeders, one of which had straw in it and the other some hay with a covering of straw.
It was obvious that the horse is geriatric (later confirmed by owner) but we felt that even if he wasn’t going to put on weight, he could be made more comfortable. i.e. appropriate feeding, feet, grooming, teeth?
Traced and visited owner who confirmed that the horse was very old. We pointed out that there was no clean water supply, his feet needed trimming and he had a sore on his pastern, added to which his coat would indicate that he was not coping with living out ‘unaided’. We suggested to the owner that an effort could be made to make him more comfortable in his old age.
Conclusion :- At his great age the horse was probably not going to put on weight, but things could be done to improve his comfort levels, if the proprietor was prepared to take the appropriate steps. Our impression was that’s not likely.
After discussion it was decided to send a letter pointing out the above.
We were once again contacted by two separate members of the public who reported that the horse was barely able to walk due swollen front knee.
A local vet was contacted and asked him if he knew of the horse and was ‘treating’ it.
The vet said no, but the owner had previously been in touch and told him that “someone” had suggested that the horse was neglected.
It was decided to send another letter to the owner pointing out the part of the code rural which states that owners are responsible for the care of their animals if they are sick or injured.
The letter was about to be sent, when we were contacted by a local, who always looked out for the horse whenever passing, and told that the owner and the local vet had been seen in the field with the horse.
In this case a phone call to the vet was obviously sufficient to ‘encourage’ the owner into treating the horse. A good result.
Horse in need reported via website.
With considerable difficulty the horse was located as the person who reported it did not want “to get involved”.
Horse finally found and we agreed from looking at the horse that, although it was thin, it seemed happy enough and was probably elderly. This was confirmed after chatting to the man working on repairing the drive of the house next to the paddock it was in. From this conversation we established that the person it belonged to was very old, but took great care of it as he was regularly seen feeding it.
This was confirmed when we paid a call on the owner who said the mare was 35 or 36 years old - the owner himself must have been in his late eighties or nineties!! He was very keen to show us the Destrier that he feeds the horse and said that he was upset when people inferred that he was not looking after his horse properly - he said that the horse was very well looked after but was just old, like him. We could only agree that as horses reach such a great age it is difficult to keep weight on them - whatever you feed them.
The person who reported the horse was satisfied with our report.
Email received via website
"Last night i was travelling through Bournel near the church opposite the Marie, with my children in the car, we stopped to look at 2 Mares with foals at foot, we noticed the 2 little ponies one that is grey/black and white, little mare who looks like she may be in Foal. Her feet particularly the right rear foot was disgusting, long bending to the right, she could hardly walk, is there anything you can do please as i cannot stop thinking of this little pony."
We visited Bournel on 20th June. Found horses and ponies. Feet definitely in need of attention especially the little piebald pony whose off-hind was very deformed. Mairie opposite closed.
Phone the Mairie next day and established found out who the equines belonged to. When rung the owner was (of course) amazed that nobody had spoken to him direct before sending in an ‘association’ . He said the pony’s foot had always been deformed and they were due to have their feet trimmed.
We agreed to allow him some two weeks grace before going back to check if anything had been done.
We went back again to check the ponies. They had both had their feet trimmed.
The little piebald was moving about quite happily. His hoof had been 'hacked' back considerably - not a 'pretty' job, but sufficient to enable him to come over and say hello to us without any difficulty. The hoof is still deformed, but the owner had previously told us that it has always been like that.
Marianne is going to personally contact the owner and say how delighted we are that the ponies have been seen to. She will gently suggest that if he needs any additional help with the pony's deformed foot, we know experts who would be able to advise.
"There is a very old chestnut, really thin, and a little pony, that hardly can walk and is very big (too much grass). There feet are terrible, and it looks like the little white pony has laminitis or something like that."
We went to visit the horses and found them without any difficulty.
The elderly, mare seemed very sprightly and came over to see us immediately. She is indeed on the thin side, but we suspect that's due to her age. We did not consider her to appear as though she didn't have enough to eat. Her coat was not brilliant and she was extremely bothered with flat flies, but that could apply to most of the horses in France. Her feet looked fine - a little long, but not in the least bit chipped or broken, in fact it looked as though they had been recently trimmed. There is a fine shelter (which she knows how to use to avoid the flies), which presumably has a water supply in it, as it's a purpose built barn. There was also a 'pond' in the paddock, but without entering the property we could not establish if that was the only source of water.
This leads me on to the pony. He/she remained about 100 mtrs away from us, even though we went down the side of the field and tried to encourage him/her over. We took a zoomed photo and zoomed in even more to check him out (which is all we can do without entering the property - which we do not have the right to do without first contacting the owner). He did not appear to be grossly overweight and did not appear to have any difficulty moving around - although it was difficult to tell as he had his head down happily grazing most of the time. Furthermore, he was not adopting the laminitic stance or lying down while we were there, so we did not feel that there was obvious evidence of the pony suffering from laminitis
The field they were in was very 'horse friendly' with lots of shade and the aforementioned shelter. On close inspection there is NOT a lot of grass available as the 'green' was mostly weeds and plants.
We could only assume that the horses feet have been attended to since they were reported. It would seem that the situation has improved to such a degree that we see no reason to contact the owner.
We have asked that IF the member of the public who reported the horses is in the habit of seeing them and she can recognise any of the classic laminitis symptoms being evidenced in the pony, to please get back to us.