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Fireworks believed to have caused deaths of horses in Tasburgh field

A horse animal charity believes fireworks displays helped cause the deaths of two ponies in a Tasburgh field over the weekend.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary vets were called to attend two incidents at the same field at Piggots Farm on the evening of Saturday and the morning on Sunday.

Sprite, a 19-year-old Welsh pony, was found on Saturday evening by a member of the charity’s night team suffering from suspected colic. He was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily.

Redwings veterinary surgeon Dawn Trayhorn said: “Although it may have been a coincidence that loud fireworks were being let off nearby, it is possible that Sprite’s colic could have been brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field.

“Similarly, the horses in the neighbouring field were also very agitated and distressed.

“Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to try and encourage him to get up, he was unable and unwilling to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep.”

During my twelve years at Redwings, I have never had to put two ponies to sleep in one evening in the same field as a result of an emergency situation
Redwings veterinary surgeon Dawn Trayhorn

Sprite’s field was late checked by the team to ensure the wellbeing of other horses. But during the early morning checks on the same field, Percy, a 25-year-old Palomino pony, was found non-weight-bearing lame on his right front leg and in an incredible amount of pain.

Vet Trayhorn added: “Again, Percy’s injury may have been caused while he was running around the field at high speed. He may have either had a fall or simply damaged his leg while charging about, or possibly even been kicked by another pony in their distress. And again, like his fieldmate, Percy’s injuries were to such an extent and he was in so much pain that there was no choice other than to put him to sleep.

“During my twelve years at Redwings, I have never had to put two ponies to sleep in one evening in the same field as a result of an emergency situation. This has been a devastating loss to the team and to the Sanctuary”.

Redwings’ Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said it was “likely” the incidents were a result of nearby fireworks displays.

“We are all so upset by what has happened to Sprite and Percy. Both ponies were in their latter stages of life and normally very sedate, as well as used to living out happily all year round, so this behaviour is highly unusual and typical of stress.

“It seems to me that pyrotechnics have become stronger and louder in recent years so that means even so-called ‘private displays’ can still be very big and visible. It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations”.

Redwings has produced a fireworks checklist for owners who are concerned about their horse during firework season. Visit www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks

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