Rescue charity, HorseWorld were alerted to a horse abandoned on land on the edge of the River Severn in Avonmouth at the end February this year.
Known as the foreshore, this area is extremely dangerous due to the treacherous sinking mud on the edge of the river and the fast tidal current. A young mare died on the same stretch of land stuck in the mud just last year.
The horse was completely alone and there was no sign that anyone was visiting the site to care for her.
She was thin and covered in lice. The weather was heavy rain and 40mph winds all that week and she was clearly very cold.
The abandonment notice posted on the gate prompted no response and so HorseWorld set about rescuing the bay mare, but this was easier said than done.
She was very wary of strangers and was reluctant to be caught.
“There was no hope of catching her on the first day as she was terrified of us and very suspicious of what we were going to do to her,” said HorseWorld’s Equine Welfare Yard Manager, Sarah Hollister.
“We posted the abandonment notices and came back to try again the next day.
"With support from a member of the public, we returned daily to feed the mare from a bucket and gradually gained her trust.
"On the third attempt, we added a little oral sedation to the feed to calm her nerves and finally managed to get a headcollar on her without causing her too much stress.
“We were so relieved to have caught her. If she'd become stuck in the mud, the tide would have come in and drowned her.
"Once caught, she loaded into the trailer quite easily and was taken back to HorseWorld where the vet came to check her over. No owner ever came forward to try to claim her or to explain why they’d left their horse in such a dangerous place and in such poor condition.
“The mare was named Sapphire to commemorate HorseWorld’s 65th year of saving horses. She has settled in at HorseWorld and is doing well. She's now putting on some weight and has been treated for lice and worms. She's now able to be treated the dentist and the farrier as her trust in humans is gradually building."
If you would like to donate towards the care of Sapphire and other rescued horses, please visit www.horseworld.org.uk or call 01275 893020.