Leo & Louie
Rescued: July 21, 2013
When we first heard about Leo and Louie, they’d already been abandoned without proper food or water for six months and were facing starvation.
They’d been living at a riding school in Murcia province, but when the school ran out of money, the owners did a runner. Leo and Louie were cruelly left behind, trapped in a field.
A local group of Spanish people discovered the two horses and managed to give Leo and Louie a little food and water to keep them alive. But it wasn’t nearly enough and the pair rapidly grew thinner and thinner.
The Spanish group had asked local police to seize the horses, but the complicated Spanish laws combined with a lack of animal welfare awareness meant the police were slow to act.
As is so often the case, one of the main problems was that there was nowhere for the horses to go, as Spain doesn’t have any official facilities to house large animals after they are seized by police. That’s when we became involved. A German woman who ran a cat and dog shelter reached out to us on Facebook on behalf of the Spanish locals to see if we could take the horses. We agreed immediately.
With arrangements in place, Leo and Louie could finally be rescued. Their Spanish guardians, who had kept them alive over the six months, drove through the night to deliver the two horses to us.
They arrived at our rescue centre at midnight. Both horses were absolutely skeletal, but we quickly saw that this wasn’t the only abuse they’d endured. The tendons in Leo’s legs were all but destroyed, due to overwork on the hard Spanish ground. After six months in bandages, Leo could once more walk freely, but he can never be ridden again.
Louie’s face showed signs of physical abuse. He had several scars on his face and his left eye was partially blind. He was incredibly nervous around us, which left us in no doubt that he’d been brutally handled. With love and care he has begun to trust people again and is now very affectionate, but he’s still very fragile when it comes to being ridden.
These days, they are two very happy, well-adjusted horses. It’s been amazing to see their personalities emerge. They’re both leaders, so we don’t keep them in the same field anymore – they were too competitive! Now they live in neighbouring fields, with each in charge of the horses in their respective plots. With a fence between them, Leo and Louie remain very good friends. Louie now has a best friend, our palamino gelding Harley.
(By the way, we named Louie after Louise Clarke, a great friend of ours, a huge supporter of our work and a top reporter for Round Town News. Louise tragically passed away in December 2012 and we thought this would be a fitting tribute to her.)
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save horses like Louie and Leo, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.
– Story written by Kate Le Gallez.