At ARCH we are no strangers to cases of neglect and cruelty, but even the most hardened of our volunteers was shocked at the state of our latest rescue, a small skewbald pony called Caramelo. Apparently he had been tied up in a field for two years (winter and summer) with minimal attention – food consisted of bread thrown in the dirt and a bucket of stagnant water. We were told the owner did not live in the village and that a relative was supposed to look after the pony. Caramelo’s hooves were in a shocking state, overgrown and deformed, so that he was in constant pain and could walk only with great difficulty. He was dreadfully underweight for his size – a bare 140 kilos instead of 220/230 kilos. His coat was matted and full of burrs, the result of probably years of neglect.

Steffi cut back his hooves so that he could stand a little more easily and we gave him food, pain killers and loving attention. A specialist equine vet came down from Cordoba to X-ray his hooves and, sadly, he found that the damage was so severe that we could offer him no treatment or improve his quality of life.  He spent most of the day lying down, even to eat and drink.

It is never an easy decision to put any of our rescues to sleep but sometimes, as in this case, it is the only kind option.  The little man endeared himself to our volunteers in the short time he was with us and he leaves a hole in many hearts and many tears were shed for him. We can often rehabilitate the worst starvation cases, and can treat horrific wounds with success but there is no miracle cure to regrow the hooves of an old pony.

R.I.P. Caramelito. You were loved at the last.