We knew when Faith arrived back home with us at the centre our lives would change forever as we had made the commitment to care for her for the rest of her life. When Rod collected her from Barcelona he was given basic instructions and shown what to do on a daily basis to care for her, but as Faith is such an active little horse we had to make it up as we went along by constantly watching and monitoring her.
She would be out in the yard with her best friend Cookie and would often, when she had the opportunity, take herself out into the fields where she would wander around investigating everything she hadn't been able to do before because of her injury. We had to make her come back into her stall several times a day to take the prosthesis off and check that everything was ok around her stump. She would actually lift her leg up for us to remove her prosthesis.
The prosthesis was off for very short periods of time as Faith would not lie down to rest without it on, she considered it part of her and she knew that with it she had the mobility she wanted, and for her it was complete freedom to go where she pleased. Never once has she wanted it off, amazingly she took to it right from the start, she was just up and away.
Initially we had to use prosthetic legs made in Spain, these were made of a foam and fabric construction with Velcro fastenings, the leg piece was actually an aluminium tube that we got from a hardware shop that's used for legs on kitchen cupboards, and it had a rubber stump that you would use on a chair to stop it sliding. Whilst these used to fit and work quite well they would break down quickly, we were getting through about one every week.
Once again we knew the answer was again with Molly the pony, so after speaking with Kaye we were then put in touch with Dwayne Mara, who made Molly limbs. Dwayne agreed to help us make a leg for Faith based on the design he had invented for Molly, he explained that Dorothea would have to make a plaster cast of Faith's stump and leg which we then carefully posted to him in New Orleans. Interestingly enough Dwayne's business is none stop as the demand for prosthetics in New Orleans is one of the highest in the world, the reason being the famous Creole cooking in New Orleans, which is mostly fried and is very high in salt and sugar causing amongst other things very high incidents of sugar diabetes.
A few weeks later the new leg turned up and initially fitted Faith really well. Throughout the Summer of that year 2011, Faith had several visits from people with prosthetic limbs, that had lost them through landmines, injuries and ill health, all wanting to meet her and give any help and advice they could for her. As you can imagine this was a very humbling experience for us.
The biggest problem we has, was as it got really hot we had to change her prosthetic sock about six times a day because of sweat, and the heat also changed the shape of her leg yet again. We were told this could go on for a while, and is normal for all amputees but would eventually stabilise.
However we decided the best way forward for Faith was for her to go back to the clinic in Barcelona, as they could create temporary legs for her to suit the shape of her changing stump, making sure she was still comfortable as she was so active, as she wouldn't lie down, she wanted to be on the go all the time.
Dwayne worked with Gasper and Claudio, Faith's two surgeons in Barcelona to make a second leg, this time enabling her to bend her knee, thinking she might like the extra movement it would give her. However, upon arrival she tried it on and clearly told everybody that she didn't like it as she refused to walk properly with it on and as soon as another rigid leg was put back on her she then took herself straight back out to get some grass.
Faith is an exceptionally strong minded, determined little pony who knows exactly what she wants and lets everybody around her know.
So after that we decided to keep her in Barcelona for several months and wait for the leg to stabilise more and also we knew we would have to come up with a new design. Up until now all the designs had been based on Molly in America, however Molly is 24 years old and is much less active than our Faith. We knew that Dwayne would have to make something similar to the temporary plaster legs that Faith's surgeons were making, these took Faith's weight further up her leg, so the pressure wasn't on her stump like Molly's were. Rod and I flew to America to meet Molly, her rescuer Kaye and Dwayne, and together we designed a new leg for Faith. It took Dwayne some time to make, as he had to experiment with different materials and fasteners, so it could also adjust for fluctuations in her leg shape, we wanted it to be lighter and much more adjustable, however it's much harder to do this for a horse as it also needs to take a much greater weight and be much stronger, than for a human.
She has now her new leg in Barcelona for about two months and it seems to be the one. Faith's two surgeons and her nurse are all very pleased with it, and they feel that Faith is ready to come back home soon with her new leg.
We are now in the process of building her a new stable next to her beautiful grass garden, funded completely by wonderful people's donations. Faith will be back in the next eight weeks when everything is ready for her here at the centre.
We also look forward to the future release a beautiful book Faith's Diary written by Sue Weeding about Faith's journey.