A donkey cruelly hobbled and left to stand alone without shelter throughout last month’s torrential rainfall is now safe from harm thanks to the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre.
The Rojales sanctuary rescued the donkey, named Dulce Dawn, on Boxing Day in a joint operation with San Javier police, even as the centre itself battled major flooding caused by a week of wet and wild weather.
Dulce Dawn had been found crudely tied to prevent her from moving, with rope wrapping from her head to her front and back legs. A shocking video depicting the hobbled donkey, posted on the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre’s Facebook page, attracted international condemnation.
“This case went far beyond normal hobbling,” said Easy Horse Care co-founder Sue Weeding, who added the donkey is possibly in foal.
“While a lot of Spanish farmers do tether their horses in fields with rope, they don’t normally hobble them and certainly not like this. It was horrendous and barbaric and we suspect it was not even legal.”
Just one day later, on December 27, Sue and her husband Rod Weeding were again called out by San Javier police to rescue another two ponies found wandering a road in the same area.
Veterinary inspections later revealed the stallion, believed to be about 14 years old, has one deformed hoof, while the mare, about 7 years old, is malnourished and could be in foal – ultrasound tests conducted on December 30 were inconclusive, Sue said.
“It’s looking probable that she is in foal but it’s difficult sometimes to get an accurate read with the mobile ultrasound. The other possibility is that she has a load of worms, which is why her belly is so big and she looks quite poorly. Our equine veterinarian will do another ultrasound in two weeks to confirm the situation,” Sue said.
The three rescues came as the Weedings battled thick mud and used electric pumps to expel water from their fields and stables, inundated in the recent flooding.
The couple also discovered the wild weather had damaged a huge load of expensive forage they’d bought in from northern Spain to feed their horses over the winter.
“Our hay shelter is simply too small now that we have 102 rescued equines, and though we did cover the forage up, it obviously got wet and started to go mouldy. Most of it couldn’t be salvaged, which was an absolute shame,” Sue said.
But she said the couple were buoyed by a show of support, with many kind locals generously donating to help cover the unexpected cost of replacement hay. Just €5 buys one entire hay bale, but many people donated much more, Sue said.
As they attempt to get back on their feet, the Weedings are calling for donations of good-quality furniture items to sell in their network of six charity stores.
The centre’s English tack shop is also offering half price off many brand new saddles, riding clothes and tack items until January 31, in a bid to raise further funds. The equestrian store is located at the rescue centre and open from 10am to 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Monetary donations are also gratefully welcomed and can be made securely online at www.easyhorsecare.net/donate/one-off-donation.
Meanwhile, long-time supporter Louise Brandley of Looking Good Boutique in Orihuela has already sold five of 20 elegant pieces donated to the cause by Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff, raising €745 for the rescued horses so far.
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre relies entirely on donations to fund its animal welfare work, including the feeding and care of the centre’s 102 horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Located just outside Rojales at Partido Lo Garriga, 59, the centre opens to the public on the first Sunday of every month between 1pm and 4pm. Free horse tours run throughout the afternoon and refreshments are available in the café. For more details and directions, please visit www.easyhorsecare.net.