Resuced: January 24, 2013. Passed away: November 9, 2015.
Dolores was the very first horse to turn up at the gate of our rescue centre – and she arrived in a terrible state.
An old girl of at least 40 years, she had pneumonia and a combination of viruses and infections caused by stress. She was severely malnourished, with teeth so painfully rotten her face was swollen with infection. She wouldn't have been able to eat even if she had been given proper food.
At some stage, Dolores had obviously been used to pull a cart with a badly fitting harness and her face was covered in scars from too-tight blinkers. Her forelegs, too, showed scarring from being shackled too tightly for years.
On top of all that, Dolores arrived at our rescue centre tied to the back of a van, terried, exhausted, struggling to breathe and sweating with the exhaustion of having to run behind the van, unable to slow down or stop.
Her Spanish owners, who had moved away to look for work, had left Dolores in the garden of a Spanish farmworker, who could not afford to feed her. The farmworker did care about Dolores's wellbeing but unfortunately did not realise the cruelty of making a horse run behind a van.
We were shocked by the pain and suffering this old mare had been forced to endure and were determined not to give up on her after everything she had survived.
Those first few days were precarious as we treated her teeth infections and viruses with several strong antibiotics and dosed her up with immune system boosters.
Our days revolved around Dolores, checking her temperature constantly, giving her injections, checking for reactions, tempting her to eat and constantly refilling her water as she drank non-stop.
All of her food and water had to be put on a table as it hurt her to put her neck down, so every day her table was taken outside with her and brought back when she came in at night. She literally had waiter service day and night.
Pretty soon she learned if she called out, someone would come running to refill her food or treat her with endless carrots and apples. She really was so very spoilt.
Dolores finally stabilised after 10 weeks of this intensive treatment, although her lungs never fully recovered.
So for the three years that she lived with us, Dolores was given a range of specialist treatment to manage her poor lung condition.
A specialist horse nebuliser was ordered in from Ireland to help her breathe more easily and in the summer of 2015, an air conditioner was installed in her stable to help her cope with the stifling Spanish heat.
She was also given free range of the stable area, which was less dusty than the fields and so better for her lungs. She loved moseying around, keeping an eye on our workers and the other horses, ponies and donkeys.
But in November 2015, we noticed Dolores was really starting to struggle and so we made the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.
This lovely old girl really had it all and we feel happy to have given her a few good years of love and kindness after all the suffering she survived.