Foals left 'hours from death' in muddy field

The RSPCA is appealing for information after two foals were dumped in a muddy field, just hours from death.

Pancake was too weak to stand (Pic: RSPCA) 

Pancake was too weak to stand (Pic: RSPCA) 

The animal welfare charity received an anonymous call on 3 March to a field off Station Road in Longstanton, Cambridge, to two abandoned ponies - one of which had collapsed.

RSPCA inspector Richard Lythgoe went to the scene to rescue the ponies: “When I arrived, the little black pony was still on her feet but the piebald was collapsed in the wet mud.

“She was so weak she couldn’t get up or support her own weight. They were both severely underweight, there was no grazing in the field and they had just been left to starve to death.”

The foals - both fillies - were taken to specialists at the nearby Cambridge Equine Hospital, at the University of Cambridge for expert treatment and care.

A few weeks on, Pancake and Poppet are recovering well in the safety of the RSPCA (Pic: RSPCA)

A few weeks on, Pancake and Poppet are recovering well in the safety of the RSPCA (Pic: RSPCA)

Eight-month-old piebald Pancake was close to death and needed intensive, round-the-clock care.

Equine vet Vikki Scott said: “She was emaciated, extremely weak and was unable to stand or support her own weight. She was dehydrated and anaemic with a very low blood protein due to heavy intestinal parasitism. Her whole body was affected by this illness, and her heart was unable to beat in a normal regular rhythm.

“It was touch and go for a while but, with intensive care, regular turning and lifting, careful deworming and feeding, Pancake has gradually grown in strength and has made great progress. She still has a way to go and requires more treatment for pressure sores but we’re now feeling really positive about her future!”

Six-month-old black-coloured filly Poppet, while also anaemic and in extremely poor condition due to parasites, was not as badly affected as Pancake.

“Poppet has grown in strength and is beginning to come out of her shell and show off her true, cheeky personality in full.” Vikki added. “She wants to be a racehorse when she grows up.

“These fillies have suffered from chronic malnutrition and came to us with all the problems that arise from months of inadequate food provision. In such cases when there are no fat stores to rely on, the body starts to break down protein for energy.

“For Pancake, this led to such severe muscle loss that she was unable to support her skeletal frame in standing. As a result of this, Pancake was also suffering from acute dehydration. Given her overall condition, she would have likely died in the field within 24-48 hours.”

The RSPCA has launched an investigation to find out who abandoned the vulnerable foals and is calling for anyone with any information to get in touch.

Inspector Lythgoe added: “Poor Pancake and Poppet were in a terrible state and had clearly been suffering for some time. We believe Pancake had been collapsed for around 48 hours.

Poppet and Pancake have found lifelong homes to go to once they're fit and healthy enough (Pic: RSPCA)

Poppet and Pancake have found lifelong homes to go to once they're fit and healthy enough (Pic: RSPCA)

“They were dumped in this field - without the landowner’s permission - and left to die.

“Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. The RSPCA deal with harrowing incidents of dead and dying horses being dumped like rubbish on a regular basis as some owners cannot afford or do not care about their horse enough to pay for veterinary care.

“Thankfully, on this occasion, we were able to rescue these horses and get them the rehabilitation they needed and, happily, both Pancake and Poppet have won over the hearts of some of the staff at the equine hospital so they’ve already found lifelong homes to go to once they’re fit and healthy enough.

“It has cost almost £3,000 for their care and treatment - and there are many more horses out there who need our help so we would appeal to the public to help us continue our vital work by donating as much as they can.”

If you have any information that could help the RSPCA’s investigation to call our appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

To help the RSPCA save more ponies like Pancake and Poppet, please visit: or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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