Mistletoe before and after she was rescued

Horse ‘left to die’ gets thousands in donations from fans

‘Mistletoe’ could barely walk when she was found near a Cardiff recycling centre at Christmas

A Welsh pony charity has seen a surge in donations for a severely neglected horse which was rescued from a roadside in Rumney.

‘Mistletoe’ was discovered near Lamby Way just a few days after Christmas, starving, covered in her own excrement and constricted by a rug which was too small for her.

Mistletoe was covered in her own excrement when she was found

She had been wandering there for days, feeding on dull scraps of grass until a lady from St Mellons found her and called the Welsh Pony Rescue charity which rescues and re-homes horses.  

“I didn’t want her to die at the roadside,” said the lady, who asked not to be named. “The charity said they didn’t even know if she would survive the journey.

“I said as long as she’s somewhere warm and dry and got people with her. I seriously would have stayed there all night if I’d have had to.”

Volunteers at the Welsh Pony Rescue took Mistletoe to the charity’s horse yard in Merthyr, where she was diagnosed with red worm, a type of parasite which burrows into the stomach lining.

Mistletoe’s new rug donated by a fan

Kate Jones, one of the volunteers who rescued Mistletoe, said: “She was skinny and could just about walk. We didn’t even know if we would get her home standing up – that’s how weak she was.”

We hoped she would still be alive the following morning

“Once we got her back to our rescue yard we put her in the stables and gave her a new rug because she was frozen. We gave her water and a bed and left her for the night, hoping that she would still be alive the following morning.”

Mistletoe survived the night and became stronger and livelier in the weeks which followed.

She struck a chord among the charity’s followers on social media and gained a dedicated fan base who donated thousands for her care – the charity received more than £2,000 in the week after she was rescued and 1,000 comments on a Facebook thread which gave updates on her recovery.

Volunteers at Welsh Pony Rescue care for 48 animals. Photo by Kate Bella

Ann Keating, who founded the charity which currently cares for 48 animals, said: “There are a lot of followers of hers and every day they ask for updates.

“She is really bright. And when she’s got her food she can be a little madam – she’ll warn you away by putting her ears back. Other than that she’s a sweet little thing.” 

While Mistletoe has developed an appetite, she is still losing weight and struggling to absorb nutrients. This could be due to permanent stomach damage caused by the redworm.

Despite the challenges ahead for Mistletoe, Ms Keating is determined to fight for her. She added: “Everything which comes into us we try to turn around. No matter how ill. We spend the money on them and try to save them, whereas a lot of charities would put Mistletoe down. Everything which comes to us gets a chance to live.”

  • To follow Mistletoe’s journey and to donate, visit the Welsh Pony Rescue Facebook page here.