Tiny orphaned foal Ava is now thriving thanks to the care of her dedicated grooms – but it was touch and go whether she would make it when she arrived last summer.
Ava was spotted terrified, starving and alone on Dartmoor after her mother died and she made national headlines when she first arrived at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary in Newton Abbot, which has a specialised veterinary and welfare centre Beech Trees.
Weak and with respiratory problems, grooms braced themselves for the worst, while setting up 24-hour, round the clock care.
Ava was deteriorating rapidly and was immediately placed in quarantine, where she was given a giant teddy bear for comfort – as well as loads of love and affection from her grooms.
Blood tests revealed she was suffering from pneumonia and was struggling to breath. She was also coughing, on strong antibiotics and she was failing to gain weight.
But slowly, little by little, she got stronger, thanks to the hard work and dedication of her grooms and, after nine weeks, she was finally well enough to leave isolation.
There were fears her extended stay and being kept away from other horses and ponies would affect her personality, possibly leading to behavioural problems.
But Ava has proved stronger than we ever could have imagined… adopting her own mini herd of young fillies and spending the last few months learning how to be a horse again.
Her groom Charley Daines said: “She has such a great personality and is a real tough little cookie. She’s been putting on weight and is growing rapidly.
“Ava’s still very young so we’re just letting her find her way in the herd. It’s great to see her galloping round with ponies of a similar age.
“Every day she spends with her friends Bambola, Ilyssa, Ida and Moonflower. They share a crew barn together and spend their days playing in the fields and a lot of time sleeping. It’s exhausting having fun!”
The grooms have also begun gentle training. Ava is now halter broken and can be led to and from her field. She doesn’t even mind having her feet picked up or a quick groom.
Sanctuary Director of Equine, Syra Bowden, said: “The future is looking bright for Ava and eventually she’ll be ready to find a new and loving home. She definitely had us worried there for a while but she’s a little fighter. Watching a foal like Ava beat all the odds is why we do this job.”
Ava’s round the clock care when she was a foal – and her continuing care and training today – wouldn’t be possible without the donations of our wonderful supporters.
Fundraising Director Dawn Vincent said: “Ava is still very young and will need the safety and security of the Sanctuary for the rest of her life.
“It is thanks to our incredible supporters and donors, who send in donations, spend money in our charity shops and volunteer their time to help that we are able to care for and provide permanent sanctuary to horses and ponies like young Ava. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
Growing up fast! Below are a selection of our favourite snaps all taken by our dedicated grooms. Enjoy!