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Louise Minchin - my mini-Shetland pony’s health scare

PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 June 2018

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin


Holly, one of BBC presenter Louise’s rescue ponies, caused her more than a little anxiety

I had a bit of a fright this month after one of our rescue mini-Shetland ponies was taken ill very suddenly. I had gone out to feed them at dusk as usual, and hearing me approach carrying their buckets of feed, they dashed helter-skelter towards me, very excited to have a couple of handfuls of pony nuts. Muffin, as usual barged to the front, to make sure he got there first, and I was careful to see Holly had her share. Everything was fine, until she took a second mouthful, and began to cough. That too is pretty normal, but this time she didn’t stop. I offered her water but she didn’t want it and continued to cough and splutter, and soon what looked like foam started streaming from her nose. It was obvious she was in a bad way. In a panic I called a friend who has much more highly bred horses than mine to ask for a number for a vet who immediately knew what was wrong. She explained she had ‘choke’, caused by food stuck somewhere in her oesophagus, the horse equivalent of a fish bone stuck in the throat. Horrible and quite dangerous. The vet told me I had to keep her calm and massage her neck to see if I could dislodge the blockage. I was to call her back if her condition hadn’t changed in an hour. Holly followed me meekly to her stable with Muffin seemed to realise she wasn’t well, as he wasn’t his boisterous self.

An hour made no difference - Holly was more distressed so I called Georgie the vet. Despite it being Friday night she arrived with her car packed with medication and equipment. She said it could be serious, gave her a mild sedative, and said if wasn’t sorted out by the morning she would have to be admitted to the surgery.

It wasn’t until I saw Holly in this state that I realised how she had changed since arriving two years ago. Then, she was nervous and jittery, wouldn’t let you touch her head. Now she was letting me stroke her ears while I willed her to get better. The sedative worked quickly and she laid down to rest. Next morning, she bright-eyed and seemed without a worry in the world. I hope it never happens again, but if it does, as least this time I already have the vet’s telephone number.

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