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Emergency surgery saved May’s life


At The Mare & Foal Sanctuary every life is special.

Which is why no expense was spared to save the life of tiny moorland yearling May, who was found suffering from a potentially fatal bout of colic.

To us her life is as important as any of the horses and ponies rescued each year from throughout the South West.


Sanctuary Yard Assistant, Freya Robyns-Landricombe, said: “As I approached her in the field I knew something was wrong. She looked uncomfortable and not herself.

“I brought her to her stable and that’s when it started – she was agitated and began throwing herself on the floor.

“Instinct told me she was in pain and I suspected colic, so we immediately called the vet. We kept her moving until the vet arrived.”


Horses and ponies are physically unable to vomit, limiting their ability to get rid of whatever toxic substance is upsetting their stomachs.

They will also roll on the floor if they are in discomfort which can lead to a twisted gut – making the situation even worse.

Colic is an intestinal condition that can be life threatening. It is the number one medical killer of horses and ponies. There are various types of colic and each is treated differently.

Sanctuary Head of Equine, Sally Burton, said: “Colic is a symptom of another problem and it’s hard to tell the reason why a pony has colic, making it harder to treat.

“Vets will always try to find out the type of colic and treat it with drugs if possible. Surgery is only considered when medication is not an option.”

The Sanctuary’s vet confirmed everyone’s worst fears – May needed emergency surgery or she would die.

She was rushed to a specialist equine hospital and tests revealed 40cm of her small intestine would have to be removed.

The surgery cost more than £6,600 and there was only a 30 to 40 per cent chance May would make it. But, despite the odds, we were determined to give this affectionate little mare a chance.


At first, recovery was slow and May needed lots of pain relief. Eventually she was able to try small amounts of food and was taken out for grass walks.

Nearly two weeks later, the team were excited to hear the news that May was well enough to come home.

Since returning to the Sanctuary, May has been under close observation with a couple of setbacks – but this feisty little mare has been fighting every step of the way.

Sally said: “Our Horse Care Teams are amazing. Their care, knowledge and quick thinking played a huge part in May’s survival.

“They took it in turns to monitor her through the night and it’s down to their dedication that she has a chance to lead a full and productive life.”

Visit our JustGiving page – at www.justgiving.com/campaign/May – to find out how a gift to the Sanctuary could help pay for surgeries like May’s, ensuring horses and ponies like her receive the urgent treatment they need.