A Chichester animal rescue took in a pony Friday with severely overgrown hooves.
Live and Let Live Farm Executive Director Teresa Paradis said the hooves – which are curved and appear to be several inches long – are a sign of years of neglect and cause the animal extreme pain.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” Paradis said, adding that the pony will require more than a year of rehabilitation to relearn how to walk properly, since it has been forced to adapt to its shoe-like hooves.
Paradis said she’s called an expert from Vermont, who will visit late next week to treat the pony, named Sugar. The expert will use a hacksaw to cut the hooves down to size, Paradis said.
The rescue operation began about two weeks ago in the Peterborough area, Paradis said, when someone driving by a farm there saw the pony and notified police. After police confirmed the animal appeared neglected Thursday, Paradis and five volunteers drove two trucks with trailers to the farm Friday to collect the pony and two horses.
The farm owner said the animals weren’t his and willingly surrendered them, Paradis said.
“It’s an old farm and they said through the years people just drop off horses there, and the old guy that owns it lets them hang out there and doesn’t care, so they were abandoned on his property throughout the years,” she said.
Paradis said horses are supposed to have their hooves trimmed every eight weeks. To grow as long as Sugar’s have, she said, would have taken four or five years. If the hooves grow too long and aren’t naturally worn down, the problem becomes aggravated because the horse may avoid walking all together, she said.
Sugar’s hooves are now shaped such that she’s essentially required to walk on her heels, Paradis said, which has meant that “her whole body is distorted.”
It’s possible the pony will end up permanently lame, she said. The animals were renamed upon arriving at Live and Let Live Farm, which will care for them while they make their recovery. The two horses are called Carl and Joe.
(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, email@example.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)