Arnie and Marmite

Little did we know that a global pandemic would strike as we entered 2020. It was a time we needed to work to reduce our numbers by successfully loaning out more horses and ponies through our Sanctuary at Home scheme so we could rescue more horses and ponies in need.

But we found ourselves having to restrict new admissions for the first time because our rehoming offer was paused due to the two lockdowns with our staff having to work in smaller numbers throughout the year to stay safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Only in exceptional circumstances could we take in extra mouths to feed. As you will have read in our previous newsletters, our new admissions included Phoenix and Phaedra who were both abandoned with ongoing health needs. Then there were our three pregnant mares who we’d rescued in 2019 who all had their foals – Lio, Tulip and our 1,000th rescue, Teyah.

We then found ourselves in an exceptional situation at the end of October – and we stepped in to assist an overwhelmed owner with the emergency care of Arnie and Marmite.

Arnie and Marmite’s emergency admission Arnie and Marmite were in poor health and an emergency veterinary intervention was needed. Their owner recognised that they couldn’t cope and asked for our help. We strive to provide no-shame advice and support to ensure the best possible welfare outcome for the equines involved and to make a very difficult time easier for the owner when they reach out for support like this.

Arnie, a 14.2hh skewbald Gypsy Vanner, was losing considerable weight and appeared dull – we were worried he had an underlying health problem. His companion Marmite, an 8hh miniature Shetland pony, was suffering with sweetitch and was covered in scabs under his fluffy coat. Their living environment was far from ideal too. Their mounting care needs and veterinary costs had become overwhelming and we provided support, patience and understanding to the owner in their hour of need.

Arnie and Marmite’s former owner Lizzie told us: “After 11yrs of treasured memories walking side by side with the lovely Arnie, and 5yrs with fun bundle little Marmite I found myself in a crisis energetically and financially. “So having seen The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s work I decided to contact them and ask for support concerning the short and longer-term needs of my boys. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fix my personal hurdles quickly enough to continue to deliver my boys the care they’d need and so asked if they could be signed over to the Sanctuary, and Gillian and the team worked hard to make that possible. A heart wrenching reality, but a necessary decision on my part, and one that was met by all with total understanding, empathy and support. “I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude for all the staff who made my boys safe transition and brighter future possible.”

Arnie being unloaded out of trailer
Marmite being unloaded out of trailer

Within hours, our in-house vet was on hand to check the ponies over in the company of our welfare adviser, Carly. Arnie’s first blood tests revealed possible liver issues, so he was put onto a course of medication to help boost his liver enzymes. Marmite was treated with Deosect to help alleviate his skin irritation from his unmanaged sweet-itch.

Our support continued in the home for a few weeks after, with our welfare advisers working closely with the owner and our vet to provide daily checks to Arnie and Marmite and to administer their specific medications.

It was becoming an increasingly difficult situation for all and it was a great relief to the owner and to us when we managed to make room for Arnie and Marmite to come into our care just on the brink of the second lockdown.

Our welfare advisers Carly and Leah collected the ponies in our lorry and helped the owner gather some of their belongings, like their rugs and feed buckets. Arnie and Marmite stood calmly whilst the handover paperwork was completed but they seemed to know that something was up. When it was time for their final goodbyes, they nuzzled into each other and into their owner’s arms. It was an emotional situation for all but their admission into Sanctuary was the right one for their future welfare.

They arrived at our welfare and veterinary centre and were taken straight into one of our large isolation paddocks with its own field shelter. This was a like-for-like setting for Arnie and Marmite and the best way we could help them to settle quickly.

Arnie and Marmite with staff
Arnie and Marmite with staff

But we needn’t have worried. Their change in demeanour happened in an instant the moment they arrived. As Carly and Leah looked on, Carly reflected on their change.

She said: “To see them in the field, they’re like two different ponies. They ran, they bucked, cantered, rolled and they were just really happy. They loved the nice fresh grass as they’ve not really had much grass at all where they’ve been. They’re very happy ponies.”

Their journey to becoming healthy and happy began and in their first few weeks, they received a full veterinary health check and had their feet trimmed by the farrier.