Saffron and the Good Samaritan

Often horse rescuers will get requests for a pony who is totally reliable, rideable, ‘bomb proof’ and suited to a child to take to pony club.

Although some of these ponies do find themselves at rescues at times, as a whole, they are more likely to be for sale with a four figure sale price attached,

A lucky few are valued by their families, who see their care as a lifetime responsibility and reward the pony for the service they have given. Others are passed on from child to child, family to family, and finally, too old to be ‘useful’ they are abandoned in a paddock, allowed to be given to an unsuitable home. sent to auction, sent to the knackery.

Saffron has clearly had better times.Saffron was someone’s beloved pony once.

We first heard of Saffron last week with a call from a neighbour and friend. She rang to pass on the information that a horse had been found on the main highway. A concerned person had seen her in her gateway, and thankfully she quickly moved her into her garden and secured the gate.

This lady has no experience with horses, but her one thought was…’If this were my pet I would want her safe’. She then set about contacting local vets, the shire and neighbours to try to find who the carer was.

After putting an interim post on FB I offered to assist with the horse, getting some better identification and a photograph plus anything else required.

On arriving I found an aged pony, initially reluctant to handled, she backed away, but with gentle talking she allowed me to put on a headstall and do a quick check over. She was clearly a pony who, although rugged, had had little other attention. The garden had ample grazing and the good Samaritan was happy for her to stay put for the time being so, I gave some basic care advice and waited to see if anyone claimed her. I also made enquiries with all local horse people and feed suppliers but no one knew the mare.

I later discovered that Saffron had been seen on the highway for at least three days. As the highway comes under the jurisdiction of VicRoads, the local ranger was not permitted to take action to secure and impound the mare…so Saffron had been left where she was. Apparently another person had put her in a nearby paddock, but for some reason she had been put back out on the road.

After some days the owner arrived. When advised that authorities and others had been notified of the mare the statement was made ‘ I thought she had drowned in my dam.”

The owner went on to say that, as the mare seemed happy where she was, did they want to keep her? This quick thinking and compassionate person agreed.

We arranged for Saffron to be surrendered on to Honey’s Pledge.

As a dentist was attending that week, Saffron has already had her teeth attended to. Watching how Saffron preferred to reverse rather than move forward, and her funny high stepping walk got me thinking.

Saffron is so reluctant to walk forward she had to be reversed onto the float and then turned, but she did it.

On arrival on a wet and bleak day, the float was backed into a large yard so Saffron could unload straight into the yard. She moved onto the fence line where there were other horses and stayed there.

After time to settle I went in to  assess Saffron, put on a new rug, show her where the water is and start her on a small feed. Quickly it was apparent that Saffron could not see. She cannot see the feed bucket, she stumbled over the water trough and was trembling as she tried to negotiate the strange environment, including the sounds of different animals in the vicinity.

The yard was not suitable to leave her in unattended and it is muddy and slippery. So with much coaxing and gentle words, I was finally able to get Saffron safely into a loose box.

We are just at the first night. After working her way around the walls with many bumps, Saffron seems to have settled. I have to feed and water her at regular intervals as she cannot find her feed and water buckets yet.

She has a new warmer rug on and Maisie the goat next door for company.

Tomorrow the vet will assess Saffron and we will get a better idea of what is behind her loss of sight and any other health issues.

My thoughts though keep going back to how terrified Saffron must have been stumbling around at the edges of the highway with cars and trucks roaring past, how she must have wondered where her paddock mate was to help her, no water. And I also think of  that simple and unequivocal act of compassion by the Good Samaritan driven by the thought…

‘If she were mine I would want her to be safe……..’.

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UPDATE: The vet has examined Saffron and she is totally blind. The blindness appears to be the result of past eye issues that have not been treated. She is not in pain but at present is disoriented in her new home. Unprecedented for us, we have put out an appeal to assist us with providing a safe paddock for Saffron.