Rescued: November 19, 2013
One spring day we received a call from the local Callosa de Segura police about a horse left to starve near the railway line. We headed down to the site with two officers and found Bella tied to a tree, extremely emaciated and in really bad condition.
It seems Bella’s former owners could no longer feed her and had left her to waste away. As we tried to load her onto our horse trailer she actually collapsed because she was so weak. Seeing her body go limp from the effort was just heartbreaking.
Bella was also suffering badly from equine melanomas in and around her mouth. These ulcer-like tumours would have been incredibly painful when being ridden with a bit in her mouth – and we know she was still being ridden around the time of her rescue because she was wearing shoes. It’s no wonder her poor little body gave out.
We managed to get Bella back up and load her onto the horse float so we could transport her back to our rescue centre and begin her healing process.
Once home, we nursed her back to full physical health as best we could – Bella has massive melanomas all over her backside as well as her mouth. Melanomas like this stay dormant and then erupt every now and then, growing again and then settling down again. We have several older grey horses like this here. It's very common in Spain; our equine vet tells us it's something to do with the genetics here. Horses like this obviously cannot be ridden as it would just aggravate things.
While we got Bella's melanomas under control quite quickly, her psychological wounds took much longer to recover from.
Bella was so used to being tied up and confined that she was absolutely terrified of being free. The minute we brought her outside she would break free and gallop around the field before rushing back to her stable.
We had to slowly help her build up trust and settle into her new life. For the first year or so we kept her in a stable where she felt most at ease.
Over time we integrated her with another couple of mares, Goldy and Melody. These three formed a beautiful friendship and we were eventually able to tie them out as a group outside and get them used to life in the fresh air in our open fields.
Another six months passed before we were finally able to let Bella off her rope to enjoy her new life of freedom with her friends. She is still skittish at times and if anybody tried to take her out of her field without Goldy, she'd literally go through them. Even when the farrier's here we have to take them both together. She's a complicated girl but makes a lovely calm field companion. We will ensure she is never ridden again.
Bella now lives outside every day with Goldy, Mystery and Nakita. She thrives off cuddles and affection.
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save horses like Bella, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.
– Story written by Nicole Lutz.