We first heard of Henry on a post on a Facebook group; With an old injury, untreated and left, his owner had decided that she would sell him through the sale yards. A fellow agistee was horrified at the thought of this lovely pony, crippled through no fault of his own, being sold through the sales, and more than likely being herded onto a truck and sent to the knackery.
She appealed for someone to purchase the gelding direct from the owner to save him from this fate. We were at capacity at the time but called and advised that, failing all else, we would pay the asking price, and then work out a solution.
Another person put up their hand and it was arranged that Henry would be floated to the saleyards the following day to be sold direct to his new carer. There were concerns raised re his physical condition but it was decided to give him a go and he went to his new home. A number of people , including Honey’s Pledge, donated towards the purchase price.
There were updates on Henry, how, with chiropractic treatment , he could again be ridden, and this was shown by photographs. What was concerning though was that it did not appear that he had actually received a diagnosis by a vet, including tests such as x rays.
Time passed and there were no updates on Henry. It then became known that he had deteriorated and the current owner was considering having him euthanized. It was agreed that he could be collected and transported to enable assessment by a specialist vet and so I made the journey to float him to our place.
Sometimes you can have a connection with an animal you have never met…and Henry was one of these. I was so thrilled to meet him. He travelled well on the float trip, and eagerly trotted down the drive to his new paddock.
Here, predictably, Shiloh, our smallest pony, arrived to meet him. We call Shiloh ‘Miss Meet and Greet, as she always crosses the property, ignoring fences, to meet a new horse.
Henry settled quickly. I found him a rug for the cool nights and started him on twice a day supplementary feeds and some herbs. He was also on pain relief as the float trip would have put additional strain on his body.
It was soon clear there was something seriously wrong with Henry. He was unable to lie down, unable to roll, and would often shift his weight continually. We had a sudden heat wave and so a trip to the vets was postponed until the weather had cooled. We made the most of this week with lots of food and hugs.
After one week we made the trip to our equine vets. This is a specialist practice with state of the art facilities.
I unloaded Henry and the vet made her initial examination. All immediately loved Henry and his soft eye.
The first step was x rays. These were done while I waited outside.
The vet viewed the images and then asked me to go to the office. I knew then what I was about to be told.
She showed me the x rays. Henry’s joints were fused with overgrowths of bone. Their advice was that there was no alternative but to euthanize.
In tears I agreed. Henry was given strong pain relief, and I took him home. We arranged that I would give him pain relief for a few days and then call the vet.
I was hoping for a week, but within three days it was clear the call needed to be made. The vet arranged to come in the afternoon. I spent the day grooming Henry, feeding him treats and just sitting quietly with him under his favourite tree.
When the vet arrived we stood together for a final few minutes. Henry was given a sedative and then the IV barbiturate. His going was gentle and swift.
In line with our practice I left Henry resting where he had fallen so the other horses could see him and say their own farewells.
Two days later the excavator arrived and we buried Henry under ‘his’ tree. We laid flowers and sang a blessing.
The vet later confirmed that his was the worst case of joint fusion the practice has ever seen. A horse in his condition should have had diagnosis by a vet before any other treatment was commenced and should never, ever, ever have been ridden.
Farewell our lovely man. It was a privilege to meet you, and an honour to send you on your final journey.
* Henry is not the name this horse was known by.