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Nervous Rescue Pony, Walter’s Surgery Journey

Our dear rescue pony, Walter has been needing some treatment recently…

During a recent check-up it was noticed that he had an abnormal discharge from his sheath and further examination revealed some masses on his penis. As Walter is so tiny, he was administered a short anaesthetic in the vet clinic at The Horse Trust to allow us to biopsy the masses. Fortunately, the masses were pre-cancerous, but were likely to progress and could eventually endanger Walter’s life. So, in the interest of our little friend’s future health, it was agreed that the best treatment option for Walter was to undergo a phallectomy (surgical removal of the affected area).

Walter is a very nervous and needle shy pony.

Over the last couple of years The Horse Trust team have worked with him using positive reinforcement to ensure we can carry out examinations and injections with minimal stress for him. For this reason we reached out to our associates at The Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR) and University of Nottingham Vet School who we have fabulous relationships with, to see if they could help us out with such a worried rescue pony. Thankfully, both organisations agreed to give us a huge helping hand by letting us bring Walter up to DATR’s equine clinic to perform his surgery together as a team, with his familiar vet team, Nicky and Claire.

Nicky and Claire drove Walter to the veterinary hospital at DATR, Melton Mowbray.

When he arrived, he had some time grazing to settle into his new surroundings- much to the fascination of Military Working Horse, Loki (featured in the picture on the yard) who is not used to ponies Walter’s size and probably wondered what on earth he was! The DATR team, who are used to horses 6 times Walter’s size, loved having our adorable resident. Walter, however, was unfazed while tucking into the local Leicestershire cuisine.

Using lots of positive reinforcement, we sedated Walter and placed an IV line.

Once he was settled he was handed over to Steffi and Scarlett, the expert anaesthesia team, and ably assisted by veterinary students. Walter then underwent surgery performed by Nicky and Capt. Alex Bowman under the watchful eye of Professor John Burford in the specialist facilities at DATR, supported by LCpl Sophia Baddick.

After a successful day in surgery, we are very pleased to say Walter is now free of his masses, giving him the best chance of continuing his happy life in his forever home!

He is recovering well from his surgery back at The Horse Trust, and he is still allowing us to treat him- even whickering at Nicky and Claire when they arrived to give him his meds! Walter will be resting up for a few days in a stable with IV medication while everything heals up, but we hope to see him back out in the Shetland Paddock very soon!

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in giving Walter the best treatment we could have asked for (see list of superstars below!).

These two organisations went out of their way to help us and we cannot thank them enough for sharing their facilities, their knowledge and their kindness with us. This was truly a fantastic learning opportunity and a great example of veterinary teamwork.

Thank you to- University of Nottingham: Steffi Conduit, Scarlett Cooper and John Burford, DATR: Maj Hattie Telfer and Lt Col Mike Robinson, Capt Alex Bowman, Sgt Simon Williams and LCpl Sophia Baddick.

We’re delighted to report that Walter has made a full recovery and is gradually being introduced back onto the grass with his herd. Due to his difficult past, Nicky and Claire were expecting some trauma to re-emerge following his surgery. However, he has been very trusting of our dedicated equine care team, barely batting an eyelid! We’re so proud of how far Walter has come, and how well he has responded to his training which has truly served him during this time.

The Horse Trust relies on public donations to continue to give a forever home to retired military, police, Royal Mews and RDA horses and to care for neglected rescued horses. If you would like to be part of our story, please consider donating today. Thank you


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