When they found her, starving to death and desperately weak, she was half the horse she should have been.
Polly the abandoned bay mare was so underweight she had zero body fat, her ribs dramatically stuck out and rescuers described her as the thinnest living horse they had ever seen. It seemed unlikely that she could survive.
In fact, one of the three starved horses that were found collapsed before anyone could help her and had to be put down immediately to end her suffering.
The remaining two, Polly and Penny, were taken to the Horse Trust for urgent care. They were given 24-hour emergency care, but Penny didn’t respond to any of the efforts made to save her life. Tragically, a week later, she was also put down to end her suffering.
The vet team then turned all their attention to Polly, a 5-year-old bay mare, who weighed a mere 696 pounds – half her normal weight. Rescuers feared any treatment could kill her.
Jeanette Allen, chief executive of the Horse Trust, said:
“It’s a miracle Polly is still alive. It’s the worst case of horse neglect I’ve ever seen,”
Initially during her treatment, the team had to be very careful about how much they fed her, as too many calories would cause her body to shut down, which could be fatal. Thus, staff was forced to limit her calorie intake.
“We rate a horse’s weight on a scale from zero to five, with three being a healthy horse. Polly was a zero—she had no fat on her skin or even around her vital organs,” Allen said.
Every day was a challenge for the team to save her, and there were no guarantees that Polly would make it.
“When we first started treatment it could have proved toxic for her. It was a horrible Catch 22 situation where we had to treat her worms to stop them killing her but the treatment itself could have caused fatal damage.
‘The treatment is absorbed by fat cells and released slowly over a few months, but she had no fat and it would have just swamped her body,” Allen added.
But After six months of constant care, Polly made a miraculous recovery. She is the picture of health and even back to a weight close to what she should be.
Despite facing so many difficulties, the staff at the trust did not give up and continued to take care of Polly.
The courageous Polly defeated all odds and survived.
“She’s a real mare now, the transformation is unbelievable,” Allen said.
After completing her rehabilitation, Polly was set free and made many new friends out in the fields — other rescue mares like her.
“She’s got a group of male horses who follow her everywhere—it’s a right little fan club. When we first got her we would never have imagined putting her in with other horses. She could barely have survived the slightest brush,” Allen said.
What a wonderful, happy ending. Polly’s astounding recovery is nothing short of a miracle, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the tender care and dedication of the Horse Trust team.
“It won’t be the end of treatment for her, but it is the beginning of her new life,” the team concluded.
From skin and bones to vibrant health — just look at how beautiful she has become! Help us in thanking the Horse Trust team for their love and dedication in rescuing Polly. We wish her a long and healthy life!
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