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Archive for August, 2009

Cast your minds back to last April when ERF attended a local horse market at St Yrieix. That day two very scared and thin ponies, a mare with her yearling filly still suckling, pulled on our heartstrings. The nearest place for them to recuperate was Jenny’s yard in the Dordogne, as travelling equines any distance in poor condition is risky at best.  As with any new equines that come into our care, Ruby and Ebony were put into a quarantine area. A careful programme of worming and feeding was followed to allow their starved systems time to adjust to the change in diet.

Ruby was fearful and protective of her baby, and Ebony was totally unhandled and difficult to get near. Ruby’s trust grew quite quickly, but her dislike of men generated a couple of attacks on unsuspecting males with her teeth!  As Ebony grew in confidence, she thought it might be fun to play. The boxing on the hind legs game was very quickly nipped in the bud!

With time and specialist care Ruby & Ebony turned into two very lovely ponies which we were able to rehome together, under our adoption scheme, seven months later.

Our policy is to regularly go and visit the ERF adopted equines to see how they are doing, and we were delighted to see how Ruby and Ebony had changed from this (back in April)……

Ruby on arrival, with some very welcomed hay

Ruby on arrival, with some very welcomed hay

Ebony sticks close to mum, Ruby

Ebony sticks close to mum, Ruby

And last week….looking great!

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It’s lovely to see them safe, happy and secure in their new lives.

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Our gorgeous pair of donkeys, Wilbur and Piona, have settled  into their new life up in Normandy with adopters Liz & Sue. These are two very lucky donkeys who are enjoying being loved and pampered, a lifetime away from the dreadful life we rescued Wilbur from last year.

We were delighted to receive some photos through today of the pair proudly showing off their new home!

You can see the video of Wibur’s arrival at ERF on the right of your screen.

Piona (L) and Wilbur(R)

Piona (L) and Wilbur(R)

How much do we love each other...?

How much do we love each other...?

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We wanted to ensure owners of smaller breeds of ponies and donkeys, including miniatures, are aware of a potentially life threatening condition called Hyperlipaemia. This is not meant to make people panic or worry, but we feel it’s important to highlight certain illnesses and conditions so we know how to spot the symptoms and help prevent the causes.

What is Hyperlipaemia?

It is a metabolic disease that effects, in particular, small donkeys and ponies which more often than not results in death. In simple terms, they get increased fats in the bloodstream.

What happens ?

When the equine  stops eating enough, the essential organs still require a food supply, so the body tries to use the energy that is stored as fat deposits. The result is that free fatty acids are circulated to the liver to be converted to glucose for use by the body. This system is controlled by complex hormonal events, which should shut down the amount of fat released from fat stores as the liver produces the glucose for the body. Sadly donkeys and small ponies are not able to efficiently turn off the fat release and the blood soon fills up with excess fat in circulation. Large amounts of fat cause the liver and kidneys to degenerate and fail, and eventually all the organs in the body fail, this results in irreversible damage and death follows soon after.

What are some of  the contributory factors?

  • Being overweight
  • Food deprivation
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or lactation
  • Dental problems
  • Internal parasites

What are the signs?

  • Dullness
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Rise in temperature
  • Weakness
  • Head pressing
  • Ataxia
  • Staggering around
  • Lastly animals collapse and have seizures before death

How can I help prevent this?

Carefully monitor your equines body condition and diet. Do not put on starvation diets as this is one of the main causes of hyperlipaemia. Do not allow to get obese (you also have the risk of laminitis with this). Avoid stressful situations or trauma wherever possible, especially in foal mares. Keep to a regular worming program that is recommended for your pony/donkey. In inclement weather ensure they have shelter and that old and thin equines are rugged.

If you suspect your equine is unwell or is showing any of these signs call your vet immediately. It is possible to be treated if diagnosed early enough but time is of the essence with this condition. Lastly, never be worried about suggesting possible conditions or diseases to your vet – you never know, it may just save your animals life.

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William enjoying some respite from the heat of the day

William enjoying some respite from the heat of the day

Accord enjoying a doze in the shade

Accord enjoying a doze in the shade

The gorgeous little Jenna

The gorgeous little Jenna

Balto doing what he does best!

Balto doing what he does best!

Goliath taking a photo shoot all in his stride

Goliath taking a recent photo shoot all in his stride

The inseperable Poppy,Maddy & Elly

The inseperable Poppy, Maddy & Elly

It's amazing what care & love can do...the beautiful Hug

It's amazing what care & love can do...the beautiful Hug

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Sometimes, getting welfare cases resolved can be a lengthy and frustrating process for all concerned, as we have have to work within the complicated realms of French law. The latest good news is that we have had confirmation from the DDSV (17) that the little shetland pony with overgrown feet blogged here has finally been attended to by a farrier.

Dealing with welfare cases is a vital part of our work, but they can also use up a lot of our resources with inspections, communications with the authorities, registered letters and legal assistance.

The latest welfare case to be reported to ERF was the plight of this old and extremely thin grey horse. This is now being dealt with the DDSV for that department who we will be corresponding with for updated information.

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Please help us to continue being able to help these equines by considering donating, fundraising or becoming an ERF member – Thank you        

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An important part of equine care is routine dental checks by a qualified equine dentist. This should be done annually but depends on your equines age and needs. Today Gazza had a visit from Equine Dental Technician, Peter Smith (BAEDT).

An initial look at Gazza's incisors

An initial look at Gazza's incisors

After rinsing out Gazza’s mouth with an anti-bacterial wash to rid all the bits of food, Peter gently put the speculum mouth  gag on Gazza. This gag causes no pain to the equine and allows the dentist to attend to the molars at the back of the mouth, it is almost impossible to do any work without this vital piece of equipment.

Now that Peter could see and feel right into Gazza’s mouth it was apparent that poor Gazza had some very wide and sharp molars at the back that had caused indentations on the inside of his cheeks. The most efficient way of rasping these  is with a motorised float, not all horses will tolerate this unsedated but our Gazza was a star!

The power tools in action...

The power tools in action...

Hopefully Gazza will now feel much more comfortable when he eats and when ridden. To understand why it is important to have your equines teeth attended to please read the article on the blog here.

We have some exciting news coming up soon for Gazza so keep checking the blog for updates……

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From April 2010 the EU will be clamping down on imported US and Canadian horse meat due to concerns over contaminated horse meat.

horse meat

European authorities have already cracked down on horse meat producers within the EU, requiring a passport and microchip ID  system that specifically documents whether a horse has received certain drugs. Owners must state that their horses are intended/not intended for human consumption by using the page on their equines passport marked section IX. Every time an equine receives a drug that is not permitted to enter the human food chain,such as Bute, it must be entered onto this page by the administering Vet.

The new EU rules will require that either slaughtered animals have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances or a undergo a 180 day quarantine period. Canada has said that they will likely abide by the 180 day quarantine, as mandated by the EU.

For years anti- horse meat campaigners in the US have pushed the point that their horsemeat is unsafe for human consumption as there is no passporting system or way of tracking where horses have come from or what chemicals they have been given.

At the moment we are unsure what the impact of this will mean for equines. France imports 85% of its horse meat at present. Most  horse meat on supermarkets shelves in France will be of Argentine, US and Canada origin.

This is a beaurocratic ruling that raises so many more questions than answers;

  • With euthanasia options already so limited for equines in France, will owners of equines (especially older ones) who cannot enter the human food chain because of drugs, be tempted to just abandon their equine?
  • Will equines, such as racehorses and trotters, who frequently enter the human food chain at present be forced to be quarantined for 180 days to be clear of drugs?
  • If  the above happens then this could this mean injured and suffering equines left untreated whilst in quarantine?
  • If  left untreated for 180 days could we see a rise in epidemics like strangles, EIA?
  • What will the US do with an even greater rise in the number of unwanted equines?
  • Will horse meat prices be forced to rise so much so that it will be nonviable to slaughter equines for human consumption? If this happens what will Europe do with all its excess horses e.g from the racing industry?
  • Will there be in increase on the blackmarket for horse meat as witnessed at present in Miami?

Whilst potentially safeguarding the human consumer in the EU, the huge impact this will have on equine welfare has been largely ignored.

Link to Commission regulation 504/2008

US news article on the new rulings

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