When Sossi brought his foal Hajrass to SPANA, he was worried that the sick horse had little hope of survival. Read on to find out how SPANA intervened to beat the odds.
As the sole provider for his mother and brother, Sossi relies heavily on his mare Massouda to support his family in rural Tunisia. For five years, Massouda has worked tirelessly to support her owner, pulling goods and serving as a wedding horse, transporting grooms on their wedding day. The hours are long, with both owner and animal working up to ten hours a day in searing heat. With the birth of Massouda’s foal Hajrass, Sossi hoped that, one day, this new addition could help ease the burden for his mother while still allowing Sossi to support his own family.
But, sadly, following a difficult birth and problems suckling, Hajrass’ health was failing him. The little foal was listless and weak, struggling to walk more than a few steps at a time. As Hajrass spent so much time lying on the stable floor, he had developed painful bedsores prone to infection. Terrified that he was about to lose Hajrass, Sossi had brought the weakened foal to the village vet for treatment.
But with limited supplies and experience in providing intensive care, the vet was unable to do much more than dress the animal’s wounds. He recommended that Sossi should bring Hajrass to one of SPANA’s mobile clinic visits to the area, knowing that we could provide the care that he could not.
When we first saw Hajrass, it was clear that a lot of hard work would be required by both our vets and Sossi for him to pull through. Hajrass was dehydrated and his joints were swollen, which made movement very painful. Our vets were able to diagnose Hajrass with a life-threatening condition called septic polyarthritis, and immediately set to work with a treatment plan.
Hajrass’s was severely dehydrated so he was promptly administered fluids and vitamin injections to revive him. The vets also started Hajrass on antibiotics while the team flushed his infected joints with saline to fight the infection. Anti-inflammatories were administered to bring down the swelling in his joints and ease his pain. Hajrass’s wounds were dressed with Manuka honey to combat infection.
While the team treated Hajrass, they talked Sossi through how to continue his care at home. They showed the worried owner how to clean and dress the wounds and gave him enough medication to treat the foal at home.
Hajrass’ first few days of recovery were touch and go. But, with SPANA’s intervention and advice, Sossi nursed Hajrass back to full health over the course of a month, stopping his work several times a day to dress the foal’s wounds. The swelling in Hajrass’ joints began to subside and, as the pain lessened, his energy and appetite gradually returned. Watching the once lethargic horse run and play alongside his mother, Sossi reflected, “It’s a miracle to see this foal healthy.”
SPANA improves welfare of working animals like Hajrass through a combination of treatment and owner education. Whilst Hajrass was under our care, we were able to show Sossi the best way to reduce the risk of similar illnesses in future through proper husbandry.
Vets explained the importance of ensuring that foals get plenty of colostrum (mother’s first milk) to build up their immune system, as well as allowing adequate rest and recovery between periods of work.
Thanks to SPANA, Hajrass is now free from the debilitating pain and can enjoy a brighter future. With time, he will be able to train alongside his mother, ensuring a future income for Sossi and his family and a better working life for Massouda.