SPANA veterinary team operating on foal

New-born foal Jamil was struggling to stand and nurse as a result of a bad injury to his front leg. The foal was unable to move and was in constant pain as the swelling around the injured joint got worse – but thankfully, SPANA’s new ultrasound machine at our centre in Chemaia, Morocco saved the day.

dsc00372Belkhoukhe Ahmed, his wife and eight children all depend on the arid Moroccan land for their survival as subsistence farmers. Their small farm is powered through the hard work of the family and their livestock, especially their mare Kenza who helps transport the family and crops. So when they learned that Kenza was pregnant, the family was delighted to welcome her foal Jamil to the farm.

However, within days of Jamil’s birth, Belkhoukhe was worried that this new addition was struggling to stand. He first noticed something was wrong when he spotted that the 12-day-old foal couldn’t put any weight on its left front leg. Upon closer inspection, he realised Jamil’s left elbow was swollen and painful to the touch. Within a day the foal was struggling to nurse from his mother unless held upright by Belkhoukhe. His owners were dismayed to see that Jamil spent most of his day lying down – the only comfortable position for his swollen leg.

Belkhoukhe left his farm and managed to haggle a ride to the SPANA Chemaia centre, 70km from his home. With no signs of sepsis or other congenital issues, the SPANA vet concluded that Jamil must have experienced some sort of trauma, possibly a kick from the family’s mule who shares the stable.

dsc00266Using their new ultrasound machine – the result of our supporters very generous donations – the team were able to identify exactly where the injury was and rule out other possible causes such as an infected joint without resorting to more invasive or uncomfortable measures for the anxious foal. Our vet explained the importance of these types of diagnostic tools:

“It’s a real pleasure to work with the ultrasound machine. It is making our job easier than before. For this particular case of Jamil, this prevented unnecessary surgery.”

The vet recommended the mule and mother and foal be separated to prevent similar injuries in the future and gave Belkhoukhe a week-long supply of anti-inflammatories. This was enough to reduce the swelling and make the foal much more comfortable. Soon Jamil was standing again and happily nursing from his mother. Within several weeks of rest he was trotting alongside Kenza, and Belkhoukhe was delighted to see little Jamil behaving just as a young horse should again:

“I am grateful to SPANA staff for taking good care of my foal. Since I don’t have enough money to call the vet, I brought it to the SPANA centre. When the vet was using ultrasound on my foal, I was smiling. When he asked me for the reason, I told him that unlike my foal, I have never undertook an ultrasound exam!”

Jamil is now recuperating happily back at Belkhoukhe’s farm.

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