An off duty ‘police horse’ has alerted rescuers to a tiny foal that was abandoned or lost on Sunday in South Norfolk, and in doing so saved its life. Redwings Horse Sanctuary is caring for the foal, but is now appealing for the foal’s owners to come forward.
Jeeves, the partner of mounted Special Constable Acting Inspector Richard Tallent, had been turned out after an afternoon patrolling the rural lanes of Norfolk as part of rural crime initiative Operation Randall, which also includes Redwings Guardian horse Bert and his guardian Nicola Rix. But when he checked his horse after dark, Richard noticed that the 14-year-old bay gelding was on edge and kept nervously looking to a neighbouring field. When Richard investigated, he found a cold, bewildered new-born foal clearly confused and alone.
The local Police were alerted, but the owner has yet to be found. The foal – named Dodger by his new carers – is currently being cared for at the headquarters of Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Hapton, receiving round the clock care and two-hourly feeding sessions from their vet team. When he was found, the foal was estimated to be less than 48 hours old. He was suffering from dehydration and may not have survived if Richard and Jeeves had not found him when they did.
“This is such a sad situation not just for the foal, but for the mare as well,” explains Redwings Vet Eve France. “Her body will be ‘programmed’ to nurse a new foal so she will be wondering where it is plus she is at risk of mastitis as her milk will be building up causing her discomfort. If the separation was done on purpose, to intentionally take a foal from the mare at such a young age is a completely heartless act. It will also cost us, a publically-funded charity, an average of £2-3,000 a year to look after this foal until he is ready to be re-homed, if he is suitable, at four or five years old. Our message is always to encourage people to think about a foal’s future before even contemplating breeding from your mare. Abandonment is illegal, immoral and completely irresponsible.”
Acting Special Inspector Richard Tallent said: “It appears that the foal had been abandoned rather than lost as so far no one has come forward to report a lost foal. It is possible that the foal had simply been separated from its mother accidentally so I would appeal to anyone with information to contact Redwings as soon as possible. Had Jeeves not have reacted in the way he did, it could have been a very different story.”
Dodger is the second abandoned foal to join the 1200 residents at Redwings in the last two weeks. Gin, a chestnut foal, was found alone and cold in the Mountain Hare area of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and taken in by the RSPCA. His mother and owner were never found; Gin is doing well with his adopted mum Monique.
If you have any information about Dodger the foal, please contact Redwings on 01508 481008 as soon as possible. Redwings Horse Sanctuary currently provides sanctuary to 1200 horses, ponies and donkeys, with a further 500 in Guardian ownership. To learn more, please visit www.redwings.co.uk