Our wonderful grooms give round-the-clock care to orphaned foal Ava

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Our wonderful grooms give round-the-clock care to orphaned foal Ava


We have rushed  to the aid of an orphaned foal whose mum died on Dartmoor – and our kind and dedicated staff are working tirelessly to give little Ava round the clock care.

The tiny foal, who is just a few weeks old, was found alone and terrified near the village of Lee Moor and it has become a race against time to keep her alive.

Worried Lee Moor residents initially called local charity Hill Pony Resources, who managed to bring the foal in off the moor and monitor her overnight.

mare-foal-sanctuary-devon-ava-orphaned-foal-dartmoor-beech-treesBut, as a small team run completely by volunteers and with a yard full to capacity, they felt Ava would have the best chance of survival at our specialised veterinary and welfare centre, Beech Trees.

The dedicated team at Beech Trees swung into action, trying to keep Ava calm with a giant teddy bear for comfort.

But she’s not out of the woods yet.

Little Ava has been having breathing problems and she is being kept in quarantine, away from the charity’s other herds.

She is being fed every two hours and has had chest x-rays, as well as suffering a bout of mild colic.

Head of Equine Sally Burton said: “We are doing everything we can to keep Ava comfortable. Losing her mother at such a young age would have caused her to deteriorate both physically and mentally.

“At just a few weeks old foals are reliant on their mother’s milk. So, we are feeding her every two hours around the clock. We’re all glad she was found and rescued. Now she just needs time and a lot of care.”

Because of Ava’s young age and fragile health, she is getting 24-hour care with our grooms taking it in turns to stay overnight and monitor CCTV cameras – and doing everything they can to comfort her.

But even now, when every instinct is to hold and bottle feed her, boundaries have to be set to make sure she has a chance of finding a loving home in the future.

Quarantine Manager Nicola Weall said: “She is being bottle fed as we don’t hand rear. The bottles are attached to a feeder so she can help herself. It’s important she doesn’t associate us with her milk.

“We also set boundaries while handling her. We don’t want her to think it’s ok to try to climb all over us. Being overly affectionate to a foal can cause behavioural issues. When they get a lot bigger it can, in fact, prove dangerous.”

Give Ava a chance of survival

Ava is still undergoing tests, but with antibiotics and nutrient rich formula it is hoped she will soon turn a corner.

Nicola added: “When she first arrived, she was very nervous. She hadn’t had much to do with humans and she kept turning her back towards and didn’t like being handled.

“But now she’s enjoying the occasional good scratch. She’s also nibbling hay and grass and getting used to her surroundings.

“She’s a really bright little thing. Which is great to see after what she’s been through. Now all we can do is support her as best we can and hope she gets stronger.”

Beech Trees is the best place for Ava to be – with 24-hour care and vets on hand should her condition deteriorate.

But none of the kindness, care and treatment she is receiving would be possible without the generosity of our amazing supporters.

We will be monitoring Ava’s condition closely and will be updating you on her progress here on our website and on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mareandfoal/

And your donations could help us towards vital equipment, vet fees and the 24-hour care needed for weak, pregnant mares and their vulnerable foals. Donate now at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/new-foals