A sickly little foal described as a skeleton when rescued by British charity Redwings is doing well in care.
Redwings say the foal, who was named Matty, is making great progress.
Matty was estimated to be eight weeks old when found with a horrendous maggot-infested wound on his leg in a field in Diss, Norfolk, a fortnight ago.
“His leg wound is healing, his coat is growing back and he’s a happy little chap, even if his eyebrows do occasionally make him look like Eeyore!” the charity reported on its Facebook page.
“We’d like to thank everyone for all your kind donations and comments.”
Redwings said Matty was just days from death when rescued. He was given a body score of 0 by the attending vet.
Senior field officer Julie Harding said: “He looked like a skeleton. He was covered in matts and burrs and was incredibly thirsty, so much so that despite his pain, when we produced a water container and he heard the water pouring into a bucket he immediately brightened up and tried to make it over to us.
“There was a river in the field but, although the other cobs in the field were able to walk down the bank to drink from it, he was unable to because of his leg.
“He drank five litres of water and rehydration powder in one go.”
Matty, so named because of the state of his coat, was taken straight to Redwings’ specialist horse hospital south of Norwich.
When staff cleaned and washed his leg, they found that the maggots had even got under his hoof capsule, which was coming away from his foot.
Vet Nicola Berryman said: “I cannot imagine the amount of pain he would have been in. The maggots were eating away at the flesh inside his hoof. The number of maggots and flies present indicate that the injury had been like that for at least a couple of days.
“He was most probably dumped in this condition. This is the first time I’ve ever given a body condition score of 0 – it’s completely unacceptable. Without our intervention he would certainly have died within a day or two.”
Despite extensive investigations, no owner could be located, and there was no trace of Matty’s mother in the area.
Inspector Nicky Thorne, who also attended the scene, said: “This poor foal was completely neglected and would not have survived much longer. We would like to hear from anyone who knows who this foal belonged to. This kind of cruelty is simply appalling.”
Harding continued: “In all my years this is genuinely one of the worst cases I have ever seen, simply because he was so close to death.
“Sadly, Matty’s is by no means an isolated case. We are increasingly seeing young colts in particular being abandoned when they are no longer wanted.
“I am just pleased we were able to get to him in time and we are so thankful to the lady who reported him to us in the first place.
“Despite his pain, he was clearly determined to survive; he has been a star patient throughout and is already looking brighter every day. He also has the most amazing eyebrows we have ever seen!”
Redwings would welcome donations towards Matty’s care, text code RWHS00 followed by the amount to give (eg RWHS00 £5) to 70070, or call the charity on 01508 481000, or visit its donations pages.