Dolores, the old horse full of pain
Many people turn up at the gates of EHCRC Foundation asking for help, information, informing us of where there are all sorts of animals in need of help, and quite often with dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, fish, geese, iguanas, parrots, turkeys, peacocks etc, asking us if we will take them in, and of course many people informing us of where there are horses that need our help.
Up until now although we are a horse rescue centre a huge variety of other animals have been brought to us, but never a horse as we have always had to go out and rescue the 52 horses, ponies and donkeys that reside here at the centre.
We always wondered when a horse would one day turn up at our gate and she did, on the 24th of January of this year.
She came to us three months ago early on a Sunday morning.
Tied to the back of a van with a rope, terrified, exhausted, struggling to breathe and sweating with the exhaustion of having to keep up with the speed of the van, unable to stop or slow down, knowing if she fell over she would be dragged behind it.
The person driving the van actually thought he was helping by bringing her to us this way. He explained that she had been left in his garden by his friend, who had moved to another part of Spain to find work.
He could not keep her there and he himself had no money to feed her. He asked if we would take her, because nobody else wanted her as she was an old horse. Obviously we said yes.
He then untied her, handed the rope over to me, thanked me and instantly drove off.
There she stood, what a sorry sight, an old girl of at least thirty years, her face and eyes covered in scar tissue where she had obviously been used to pull a cart with a badly fitting harnesses, even the blinkers had been too tight and marked her eyes.
Scaring around both of her front feet, where she had obviously been shackled for years.
Severely malnourished, her teeth so rotten she wouldn't have been able to eat even if she had been given any proper food.
But she had survived the journey to us and now we had to do our best for her.
The pain and suffering this old horse has had to endure for thirty years, but still she refused to give up.
We named her Dolores, a Spanish name which means pain. I had no idea that morning how many man hours of care and love would be involved saving her.
Dorothea our equine vet came and took a blood test, to determine what problems she had, as it was obvious she had a serious respiratory problem as she was still struggling to breathe and coughing six hours after her arrival.
Sadly at Christmas, Dorothea, had her van, complete with all the equipment in it, stolen, one of the items being a blood testing machine. Due to this equipment being very expensive, going into hundreds of thousands, she is unable to replace it all at once. This means that we now have to wait a lot longer as she has to send each blood test away to a laboratory.
Kaye came the next day and removed the rotten tooth that had caused the side of mouth to become so swollen with infection and filed the rest down so she could actually grind her food and begin to eat properly again.
Horses need grind in a figure of eight motion when eating, if unable to do so simply cannot get the food and break it down.
Although she was now eating, after two or three days her condition deteriorated even more, a huge discharge started to come out of her nose and her coughing got worse.
When the blood test finally came back we discovered that she was riddled with a combination of different viruses and infections that had been activated by her stressful trip here to us, that had been laying dormant in her for years.
Many horses carry viruses that they pick up throughout their life, as they are moved from yard to yard or introduced to other horses, but show no outward signs as their immune system keeps them in check.
Many of these viruses can never be cleared from a horse once they have it, and they can go on passing it on to other horses they come in contact with, young ones quite often being the most vulnerable.
As with humans the young ones get over it quickly but will then become a carrier throughout their life.
As Dolores was well into her thirties, with several of these infections all coming back at the same time, we knew we had a fight on our hands to save her.
The only way was to inject massive amounts of very strong antibiotics into her twice daily we were doing this with several types of different antibiotics, as different ones fight different infections.
She was also on immune system boosters. We had to fight it with everything we could get into her, as it had taken hold of her respiratory system.
This put a huge strain on her liver and kidneys and there was a high chance that the treatment itself would kill her. But this was the only option for her.
Our days revolved around Dolores, checking her temperature constantly, injections, checking for reactions from the injections, tempting her to eat and constantly refilling her water as she was drinking none stop as a reaction to all the antibiotics that were going into her.
All of her food and water had to be put on a table for her as she it hurt her to put her neck down, so everyday her table was taken outside with her and brought back when she came in at night. She literally had waiter service on her table day and night.
After a month of this five star treatment Dolores has worked out, if she called out someone would come running and re-fill her food or top up her water, not to mention the endless carrots and apples she has also received.
After ten weeks of this intensive treatment everything seemed stabilised, her lungs sounded clear, the coughing had stopped and she had gained weight.
It was decided to take her off the drugs, as her liver and kidneys were still working at this time.
At the time of writing this article, we are waiting for another blood test, the cough has come back a little bit, but it is under control with an anti-inflammatory, the lungs still sound good, however there is scarring in the lungs through years of neglect.
We are very hopeful that this old girl will now go on and have a few good years of love, kindness here with us at the centre as we truly do love her and all her stubborn ways. After all she has endured, she more than deserves peace.