Meet Polly, a 5-year-old horse who was found emaciated to the point of near-death last February.
The horse had been abandoned in a field near Buckinghamshire in England, along with two other horses. The other two, unfortunately, were in even worse shape than Polly. Their advanced states of malnutrition, paired with even further injuries, resulted in the decision to euthanize them in order to prevent further suffering.
Sarah Keith, an inspector for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), said bluntly, “Sadly I see a large number of skinny horses, but I’d say Polly was the second thinnest horse I’ve ever rescued – it’s a miracle she survived.”
Polly was taken in by The Horse Trust, which provides shelter and care for rescued and retired horses, including “public servant” horses that were used by the police and military. When they rescued Polly, she weighed a mere 700 pounds, which is less than half of what a horse her size and age should weigh. It seemed likely that Polly would have to be euthanized, as well.
But her caregivers at The World Horse Trust didn’t give up on her, even though Polly’s condition was slow to improve. First, staff limited Polly’s food and calorie intake until her body could handle the intake, worried that a sudden increase would prove to be fatal to Polly while she was so weak and starved. But it seemed like an uphill battle.
According to the Horse Trust website, “Every time it looked like Polly was making progress there was another setback. Her temperature, pulse and respiration rates were abnormal.” Her weight wouldn’t stabilize, either; every time she gained a little, she would lose it within days. Polly was also contending with rain scald and dermatitis, as well.
Through it all, Polly was kept in isolation, with her caregivers believing her to be far too weak and traumatized to interact with the rest of the horses at the sanctuary.
Slowly, improvements were made. Polly’s weight stabilized, and then she begin to gain. By this summer, the rest of Polly’s health issues were under control. In August, it was reported that Polly had gained a total of 330 pounds in the six months since her rescue. As the little horse grew healthier, her character began to emerge, and the staff of The Horse Trust admit openly that she has stolen all their hearts.
Jeanette Allen, the chief executive of The Horse trust, said “It seems such a long time since Polly came to us in February. Hers was a case of cruelty of the worst kind. Her condition was so terrible that we could never be totally sure if she would pull through until recently.”
And Polly was finally introduced to the rest of the horses at the sanctuary, deemed healthy and happy enough to interact with others. Allen said, “Every day Polly enjoys from now is a bonus. It won’t be the end of treatment for her, but it is the beginning of her new life.”
The person or persons responsible for abandoning Polly and the other two horses have not yet been found, although the RSPCA still hopes to find them and hold them accountable for the horrible case of animal abuse.