This little pony is in a dreadful condition. We’ve recently rescued him and will try to improve his well-being. Yes, he has been sadly neglected, but no, it isn’t a cruelty case. His owner has had dementia for some years and it’s worsened, she is now in hospital. She loves horses and all animals but hasn’t been able to care for them. Sally, the little Westie we took in, is from the same home and is now safe with us and on the road to recovery.
Rufus may not look too bad at first sight. He has many serious health problems though and it will be a long time before recovers. One of the most distressing aspects is that he’s lived on his own in a back garden for many years – he’s 18 years old now. When we were alerted to his plight he’d been shut in a stable for a long time. He couldn’t see out and was knee deep in muck. It seems that his owner, who is ill, had not allowed anyone to help her look after him or give him the treatment he so badly needed. Perhaps she didn’t want him to go outside because she feared he would be taken away from her if anyone saw his terrible condition.
So, what’s wrong with him? He is very thin except for a huge ‘pot’ belly. Looks as though he is full of worms. (we wormed his straight away). He can’t walk properly – his feet are deformed, the front hooves are like ‘slippers’, the hind hooves are even worse, he walks on the tip of his hooves and doesn’t seem able to put the sole of his feet to the ground. These problems are caused in part because he hasn’t been allowed out to get any exdercise. We have a very good farrier and our first call was to him, then it’s x-rays of his hooves to see what can be done.
Is that it? No, sadly it isn’t. Rufus is a stallion, he was never gelded as a youngster. So, does this matter? Yes and no. He has an undescended testicle, probably this is why the operation to geld him never took place. It can be done but it is major surgery, dangerous and is very expensive.
Because he is old and frail and unwell, he couldn’t be gelded at this late stage. The problem is that stallions, even little ones like Rufus, are difficult with other ponies. They want to get the girls in foal and fight with the boys. The idea of eventually turning him out in the fields with the herd is unlikely to happen. Perhaps we can find him a single pony friend he will get along with – ponies are herd animals and we don’t like the idea of a solitary life for him. But we’re a long way off that – one step at a time and we have to tackle the other problems first.
He’s walking on the front of his hooves.