When the riding school asked if they could turn out a horse in our paddock to put on a bit of weight, of course, our answer was yes. She was dropped off in the paddock late one afternoon, after the boys had been fed, so I didn't see her condition until I went out the next day.
She was a mess. She would have been one of the worst looking horses I've ever seen. She was skinny to the extreme - almost every bone in her body was visible. She had rainscald which had been allowed to develop so far that it caused her to lose almost every hair on her body, including her ears. The only part of her with any hair was a small part under her mane. And (not pleasant, I know!) she was so undernourished and underweight that you could fit your fist underneath her tail where her bottom SHOULD have been.
Tilly when we first began treating her.
Then began the process of getting her away from the riding school. In the end, we got her through the RSPCA, and were finally able to treat her ailments. To begin with, she was scrubbed with a water-iodine solution twice a day to kill the bacteria that had caused her hair loss. She also suffered from sunburn, as we were unable to rug her to protect her against the sun because of the presence of the bacteria.
She also developed an eye ulcer because she was so undernourished. Eventually, this also cleared up, but it took a long time. Her teeth were in terrible shape, so much so that it is hard to tell her age. She's branded, so we know she is either 13 or 23, but the top part of her brand went missing when her hair did. Her teeth look older than a 13 year old, but she has come along so well that it is hard to think of her as being over 20. 2 vets have said she's 13, but another said 23. You just can't tell.
Tilly Christmas Eve, about a month after we got her.
The first time I took her out, she was so excited! I only took her for a swim down in the creek, but she really did enjoy it. My poor bottom, though - her spine bruised my tail bone for a few weeks afterwards!
Til is now looking much better - it's taken a while, but the improvement after a few months has been great! She's such a loving animal, absolutely LOVES hugs and is a joy to ride and be around - the only thing we've found her to be scared of is the miniature ponies just down the road!
Tilly January 2009, looking happy and healthier
We are still having ongoing problems with her feet. When we got her, her feet had been cut back so short that they still need to be longer, even 5 months later. Amazingly (she's a tough little thing!) she never pulled up lame - she was tender on the harder ground, but showed no signs of lameness on soft ground.
Tilly about a month ago (March 2009)
This is Tilly's story. It's an ongoing one, and one that will hopefully bring so much more happiness.