The Horse Trust is heartbroken to announce that our little fighter Bronwen, who we rescued with her filly foal Seren last year from the streets of Swansea, has passed away.
Standing at just 10hh, when she came to us she was in an absolutely appalling state. She was so deathly thin she only had a body condition score of 1/5. She appeared to have old hobbling wounds on her legs as well as carrying a very heavy worm burden. Most noticeably however her skin was in just horrific condition. Both skin and hair was missing in some places and was quite literally hanging off her body others. The damage was so bad she was not allowed out in direct sunlight until her skin had repaired itself. She gave all the energy she had to nurse her few month’s old foal which just shows what a dedicated mother she was.
Both Bronwen and Seren were initially on a very limited amount of grass as Bronwen was so thin she could suffer from the fatal refeeding syndrome if she ate too many calories too quickly. Both girls were monitored 24/7 by The Horse Trust’s dedicated team and our on-site vet Nicky, until they showed clinical signs that they were both putting on weight and recovering.
Even after her years of neglect and abuse Bronwen was a complete joy to work with. She was absolutely petrified of people when she first arrived with us, but our Behavioural Team were so patient with her whilst they worked to build up her confidence. Esther was Bronwen’s lead behaviourist and developed an unwavering bond with her. She was able to change her association to people meaning that Bronwen eventually started approaching Esther in the field by choice and led the way for her foal to become more confident too. She had a severe lack of muscle on arrival due to being so underweight and struggled to stand on three legs to have her feet picked out. Esther used to hold her up to balance her until she mastered this to receive her monthly pedicures from the farriers!
The team taught her basic commands and trained her to wear a head collar. Once she mastered pressure and release there was no stopping her, and she used to march around the field like she was always on a mission (probably to find the treats!) The team used scratches as a reward-based mechanism during their training with her, and Bronwen enjoyed them so much she would regularly sidle up to her handlers for some extra love.
Whilst she was quiet and gentle with her handlers, she was quite the boss lady with other horses and would regularly pull faces to tell off the bigger military and police boys if they bothered her from over the fence – nobody was telling Bronwen she was just a little Welsh pony! Although she was always very excited about food, after she finished her breakfast, she would often go back to the gate and wait to be let back into her field – she was very good at knowing her routine and was such a polite lady.
Bronwen was seen a couple of weeks ago for a check-up with our vet Nicky as she had lost a bit of weight and was very sleepy following sedation. Bloods were taken and very sadly they showed she was in liver failure. A liver biopsy was taken to work out what was causing the liver failure and treatment was started. Tragically within a couple of days she started to show neurological signs which are a common sequel to liver disease and the kindest thing we could do was to let her go.
After obtaining the biopsy results from the lab it was determined that the liver failure was due to ragwort poisoning. Bronwen must have ingested the ragwort prior to arriving at The Horse Trust, as she was abandoned and scrabbling for enough to eat to keep herself and her baby alive. Ragwort poisoning usually takes about 6-12 months to cause enough damage to the liver to see clinical signs (it can be quicker if very large volumes are consumed). We will take bloods from Seren to check there are no signs of liver disease as she could have ingested it through Bronwen’s milk. This is incredibly unlikely but we want to be 100% sure Seren is fit and healthy.
We are keeping a very close eye on Seren and thankfully she recently underwent a gradual weaning process which has really reduced her stress levels during this traumatic situation. She has now been paired up with Phoenix, and they have already formed a really close bond and Seren is nudging her like she used to her mum Bronwen.
Due to the love, care and dedication of The Horse Trust’s team, Bronwen was completely transformed from the listless, malnourished and poorly pony who arrived with us last June, right at the heart of the pandemic.
We all have such fond memories of our brave little soldier that we will treasure forever. A one-of-a-kind golden girl with a heart bigger than we have ever known. You will be missed more than we can put into words.