Georgia’s story is just one example of the kind of case we are called to deal with on a regular basis. Despite being in a dire state, she miraculously recovered at an extremely difficult time for the farm. As such she has become something of a symbol of what the Trust is capable of, as well as a beacon of hope for all horses facing welfare issues on Skyros.
On the 2nd of August 2013 we were called by the Skyrian Horse Society to take a look at a foal of approximately seven months old which had a problem with its leg. This is what we found:
We spoke to a number of vets over the phone as there isn’t one on the island, and after speaking with the owner and the Skyrian Horse Society it was decided to bring the foal to the Skyros Island Horse Trust Farm. The foal’s leg was diagnosed as being broken in two parts, at the point of the elbow and at the knee. This lovely filly foal, which we would all come to adore and see as a symbol of life in a dark period of time in our lives, was also colicking and probably had been for some time, with no vet on the island to treat her.
First it was necessary to stabilise the leg, using tena towels (necessity being the mother of invention) as gamgee and light stretch bandages, then drainpipe to act as a cast wrapped with vet wrap (difficult to source here so we used gaffa tape!).
Then began a round-the-clock vigil with myself, Dimos, Stathis, our volunteer Marieke and young J reading her stories (while I regularly had to remind her that we were giving her a chance but we didn’t know for sure that she could get better, and even the vet wasn’t sure she could recover from a broken leg in two places). To cope with the colic we used finixin, mineral oils, homeopathic remedies and liquids. Within a day we started her on IV hydration, helped by Nikos Kritikos, and after three days – thank God – the colic stopped!
Due to a tragic personal loss the responsibility of looking after Georgia fell to our amazing volunteer Marieke, who watched over her for four days. When J left us to return to her aunt, asking us to please make sure Georgia got better we went home and put aside our grief to cope with this small life that we had to make better for J’s sake, and also as a sign of hope for ourselves.
On the 10th of August Stathis decided after consulting with a vet over the phone to plaster Georgia’s leg. This was particularly difficult because of the breaks both at the point of elbow and above the knee, which made it hard for the cast to hold the break at the point of the elbow without falling down and putting pressure on the break above the knee. Also a homeopath from the UK, was on the island and gave us a number of remedies to help the bone knit: comfrey for knitting bones together, arnica for the pain, hypericum for nerve damage, rhus tox for ligament damage and calc carb to aid bone growth.Along with veterinary pain relief at very low dosages.
Fortunately, there was also a retired Greek vet on holiday on the island who was able to look at Stathis’ plaster-work on the leg and worked with him again. A week to nine days later we were aware that the plaster had slipped and was putting weight on the break at the point of the shoulder and we made the decision to take the plaster off. Unbelievably, the break above the knee had fused, but the other break had still not fused at all. We decided to take her off all painkillers ( apart from homeopathic medicines) so that she would move as little as possible.
Georgia was a star. She would lie down most of the day and find a way to get up on her three legs to eat, drink, poo, pee and then lie down again. She was amazing from the first moment – a scared, broken-legged, tethered foal who had never been handled before and was terrified of humans appeared to understand that we were trying to help her. She would lie for hours to be bandaged as we all tried our best with no veterinary expertise to help her.
As the weeks went on, she began to put weight on her leg – the strength was coming back! As you can see, she is now fighting fit and a real superstar.