In September 2017 Spanish police found a pony lashed to a tree in the town of Algorfa. The elderly animal had apparently been abandoned to the searing heat, and the terrible treatment the poor creature had suffered was etched all over his emaciated body. The pony was so downtrodden and defeated, in fact, that he wouldn’t even raise his head when the officers approached.
So, the police who discovered the discarded pony called the Easy Horse Care Rescue Center (EHCRC) in the nearby village of Rojales for help. And the EHCRC would later describe how the officers had found the animal. Specifically, in a Facebook post on the EHCRC page, the organization wrote, “He was tied to a tree with no food or water, with his head shoved in a bush to try and keep the flies out of his eyes.”
The center had subsequently taken in the broken pony, who was estimated to be about 20 years old. It knew, however, that there was a lot in order to do to rehabilitate the animal. Indeed, the EHCRC’s Facebook statement continued, “We knew he had survived unthinkable events and would be one of our most difficult cases yet.”
The EHCRC itself, meanwhile, was originally founded in 2008 after a horrific discovery was made by Sue and Rod Weeding. The couple had moved to Spain hoping to enjoy a relaxed and sunny retirement; this all changed, however, after they met a two-year-old stallion called Luceiro. As a statement from the couple on the EHCRC website reads, “We found [him] locked in a filthy and dark stable, his left eye badly injured and rotting, hurling himself repeatedly against the bars of his stall as flies drove him crazy.”
Furthermore, the Weedings were shocked to discover the paucity of animal welfare refuges in their adopted country. As a result, they established the EHCRC as a rescue and rehabilitation center for abused, neglected and abandoned equines in Alicante. In addition, the couple explain on the center’s website that the EHCRC is a no-kill foundation and that it aims to “provide each rescued animal with a safe and loving sanctuary – either here at our center or via rehoming – for the rest of their lives.”
The website also states, “We believe that when you love an animal, you fight to save it. They may be old crocks and broken down and disabled, or whatever, but for the abuse they’ve suffered and survived, they deserve a second chance.” This may be the reason why the local police thought of the center when they found the aged pony in Algorfa.
Giving the abandoned animal a better life was also why the Weedings had chosen to accept the poorly pony. And he certainly seemed to need some TLC. After he had first arrived at the EHCRC, the center noted on Facebook that he was “malnourished, dehydrated and weak.” The pony also “had one eye literally rotting in his head and walked with an extremely wobbly gait, likely caused by a neurological disorder.”
The center added, “His condition was absolutely heartbreaking to witness… We see terrible cases like this regularly, but it never gets any easier.” Unfortunately, the pony would need time to become more robust before his infected eye could be removed. And, heartbreakingly, the animal’s other eye was also damaged to the point where it was estimated that he only had around 60 percent sight in it.
However, it wasn’t the state of the pony’s eyes that had initially caused the most concern at the EHCRC. Instead, workers there were more worried about the cruelty and neglect those eyes had witnessed. And, in particular, the staff members were struck by the police officer’s story of how the pony wouldn’t even raise his head to his rescuers. They believed the reason for this, moreover, can be explained by an injury that the pony had sustained.
And Dr. Dorothea Dudli von Dewitz, an EHCRC veterinarian, seemed to confirm as much during a check-up on the horse. She performed X-rays on the rescue center’s new arrival, and these clearly showed that the pony had suffered a severe blow which had resulted in the breaking of two of his vertebrae. This was thought to be the cause of his neurological problems, unsteady walk and the inability to lift his head.
It is even possible that this same injury was the one that had left a very visible scar on the pony’s neck. It may even have contributed, EHCRC employees hypothesized, to the state of the animal’s damaged eye. And, sadly, workers at the center came to the conclusion that the poor creature had suffered this abuse at the hands of a previous owner who had assaulted the elderly pony deliberately.
Thankfully, however, the animal is now in safe hands and in a far, far better place – both physically and emotionally. The EHCRC has even dedicated a page to the pony on its website. On there, his biography reads, “He’s certainly survived a heck of a lot. Yet [he] is a very sweet old pony and we absolutely love him to bits.” The entry continues, “He deserves everything in the world that we can give him and more.”
But because the pony has suffered such awful and heartbreaking abuse, he will likely need extra attention for what remains of his life. The EHCRC explains on its website, “He is a special needs pony, but the good news is his condition shouldn’t deteriorate any further now that he has proper care.”
And, happily, after his rescue, it didn’t take the damaged pony long to realize that he was loved at last. He was soon lifting his head to cuddle up to his saviors, for example, and was even happy to receive some much-needed affection. The animal also quickly found his feet in his new home. As the EHCRC website states, “He’s munching away happily in our stables, probably thinking he’s gone to heaven.”
But even if the pony was now receiving the care he deserved, he also needed something else: a name. So, the EHCRC turned to its Facebook followers for suggestions. Lots of animal lovers had been reading about the pony’s harrowing story and his road to recovery, though, and they were more than happy to chip in ideas for his new moniker.
Many offered names that reflected his difficult past, for instance. One Facebook user wrote, “How about calling him Trooper? Because that’s exactly what he is.” Another respondent had a similar idea and said, “With a story like this he should be called Lucky or Chance.” However, the EHCRC had to point out that it already had a horse fortunate enough to be called Lucky.
Others, meanwhile, decided to propose names that referenced the color of the pony’s fur. One suggested, for instance, “Caramel or coco.” And as it turned out, the winning moniker also followed this train of thought. Eventually, then, the previously unwanted animal would receive a name of his very own.
And in October 2017 the EHCRC gave the good news to its Facebook followers. Its post read, “We have a name! We’ve decided to call our newest rescue Fudge. Thank you so much to everyone for your gorgeous name suggestions. It was a tough choice, but we felt Fudge suited this little fellow perfectly.”
And Sue Weeding has since spoken to Scribol about how Fudge’s health has developed. She said, “Fudge continues to do very, very well. He’s gaining weight. He’s certainly a lot stronger and much more lively.” She added, “He gets about much better now than he did. His movement is much more stable, but obviously he’s a lot stronger now because he’s got food and water.”
Sue continued, “It is highly unlikely Fudge will ever leave the rescue center. This is why I have 108 horses, ponies and donkeys. We take in the animals that no-one else wants. I guess little Fudge will be with us for the rest of his life, which for us isn’t a problem at all.” And she finished by telling Scribol, “He’s a lovely little guy. He loves cuddles, he’s very friendly. I think probably this is the best his life has ever been.”