Horses need to have their hooves trimmed every few weeks, but Poly, a Shetland pony recently rescued by an animal shelter in Belgium, hasn’t had hers trimmed in over 10 years. Now, she may never walk normally again, due to damage to her joints.
As you can see in the gruesome photos below, Poly’s hooved had grown so much over the years that they eventually became thick keratinous spirals that made it impossible for the animal to walk properly. It’s hard to imagine how someone could ignore something like this for so long, but unfortunately, the pony’s owner was the only one who knew about it.
Animaux en Peril, an animal shelter in Wallonia, Belgium, claims that both Poly and another horse were kept hidden away from public view, in a makeshift shelter located far away from any roads. When the owner finally called them to pick up the animals, they found them living in despicable conditions. Both horses were emaciated, crawling with lice, and were standing on a layer of manure about two-feet-thick. Shetland ponies weigh around 450 pounds, but at the time of her rescue, Poly weighed just 150 pounds, “the weight of a large dog”.
“[The] pony and horse have a body index (condition of being overweight) of one in five, the last stage before death by undernutrition,” the Animaux en Peril website reported. “It is cachexia, or extreme leanness, that causes muscle wasting, the body literally self-consuming.”
But the most horrifying sight was Poly’s overgrown hooves. Untrimmed for an estimated 10 years, they had twisted into painful spirals that shocked animal activists. “In 24 years of existence, our refuge has never hosted an equine with hooves so long,” the sanctuary wrote.
The overgrown hooves needed to be cut down to size as soon as possible, so rescuers used a hand saw to remove them piece by piece until they were of reasonable proportions. Even so, it’s clear from the “after” photos that Poly’s joints have been severely affected by the long-term negligence, and she may never walk normally again.
The good news is that after being sheared, washed and having their irritated skin tended to, both Poly and the other horse, named Everest, were feeling much better. They are both at the Animaux en Peril sanctuary, recovering from years of torture.
As for the cruel owner, he could face hefty fines and even jail time for making the two horses live in such improper conditions. According to The Dodo, the local prosecutor has two months to decide whether to prosecute the case.
Photos: Animaux en Peril/Facebook