The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has come to the aid of an orphaned foal whose mum died on Dartmoor – and the charity’s kind and dedicated staff are working tirelessly to give little Ava round-the-clock care.
The tiny foal, who is just a few weeks old, was found alone and terrified near the village of Lee Moor and it has become a race against time to keep her alive.
Worried Lee Moor residents initially called local charity Hill Pony Resources, who managed to bring the foal in off the moor and monitor her overnight.
But, as a small team run completely by volunteers and with a yard full to capacity, they felt Ava would have the best chance of survival at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary in Newton Abbot, which has a specialised veterinary and welfare centre, Beech Trees.
The dedicated team at Beech Trees swung into action, trying to keep Ava calm with a giant teddy bear for comfort.
But she’s not out of the woods yet.
Little Ava has been having breathing problems and she is being kept in quarantine, away from the charity’s other herds. She is being fed every two hours and has undergone chest x-rays, as well as suffering a bout of mild colic.
Head of Equine Sally Burton said:
We are doing everything we can to keep Ava comfortable. Losing her mother at such a young age would have caused her to deteriorate both physically and mentally.
At just a few weeks old foals are reliant on their mother’s milk. So, we are feeding her every two hours around the clock. We’re all glad she was found and rescued. Now she just needs time and a lot of care.”
Because of Ava’s young age and fragile health, she is getting 24-hour care with the Sanctuary’s grooms taking it in turns to stay overnight and monitor CCTV cameras – and doing everything they can to comfort her.
But even now, when every instinct is to hold and bottle feed her, boundaries are being sent to make sure she has a chance of finding a loving home in the future.
Quarantine Manager Nicola Weall said:
She is being bottle fed as we don’t hand rear. The bottles are attached to a feeder so she can help herself. It’s important she doesn’t associate us with her milk.
We also set boundaries while handling her. We don’t want her to think it’s ok to try to climb all over us. Being overly affectionate to a foal can cause behavioural issues. When they get a lot bigger it can, in fact, prove dangerous.”
Ava is still undergoing tests, but with antibiotics and nutrient rich formula it is hoped she will soon turn a corner.
When she first arrived, she was very nervous. She hadn’t had much to do with humans and she kept turning her back and didn’t like being handled.
But now she’s enjoying the occasional good scratch. She’s also nibbling hay and grass and getting used to her surroundings.
She’s a really bright little thing. Which is great to see after what she’s been through. Now all we can do is support her as best we can and hope she gets stronger.”
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is the best place for Ava to be – with 24-hour care and vets on hand should her condition deteriorate.
But none of the kindness, care and treatment she is receiving would be possible without the generosity of the charity’s amazing supporters.
The Sanctuary is now planning regular updates on the progress of Ava on the charity’s website and Facebook pages.
To find out more about the work of the Mare and Foal Sanctuary across the South West, which relies entirely on donations and legacy gifts, and to see the horses and ponies currently available for rehoming, visit the charity’s website at www.mareandfoal.org or call 01626 355969.