'Do not feed me' - Owner's message to protect horse from over-eating

Donkey the horse was painted with the words "do not feed me" by owner Johanna

Donkey the horse was painted with the words "do not feed me" by owner Johanna - Credit: Johanna Lesley Bayliss-Fuller

A horse owner was forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her animal after a recent incident.

On Friday evening, Johanna Lesley Bayliss-Fuller returned to her horse, Donkey, to find that fence posts had been removed from his enclosure in Dedham.

The electric fence had then been left on the ground whilst still live, with Donkey left to roam.

Johanna believes this may have been the result of a passer-by being concerned by the lack of grass in the horse's field, but explained why these conditions are necessary to keep him alive.

She said: "I turned up on Friday night and for the first time in my life having ponies, someone had actually let my horse out.

Donkey suffers with laminitis

Donkey suffers with laminitis - Credit: Johanna Lesley Bayliss-Fuller

"The horse in question has laminitis and he had a small bout of it about six weeks ago now and that's why he was in this patch with not too much grass, as eating too much of it would make him flare up again."

Laminitis is a condition affecting one in ten horses or ponies every year and can cause permanent damage to the hooves.

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It affects tissue called sensitive laminae which are found in the horse’s hoof and in extreme cases the pedal bone can rotate and drop through the sole of the hoof.

In such cases, euthanasia is likely to be the only treatment option to end the horse’s suffering.

Over the last few years, Johanna says she has seen an increase in the number of people walking in the area and has become worried about the amount of extra food her horses have been given by passers-by, with their individual conditions often being worsened by over-eating.

Donkey loves a head scratch, but Johanna has asked for people not to feed him

Donkey loves a head scratch, but Johanna has asked for people not to feed him - Credit: Johanna Lesley Bayliss-Fuller

To make it clear that her horses should not be fed, she wrote the words 'do not feed me' on the side of Donkey using sheep marker spray.

She added: "There's another horse who has no front teeth and if someone gave him a carrot or apple he would choke to death, it's that simple.

"I get that most people want to feed the ponies and don't think they're doing any harm, but actually it is quite dangerous.

"The person who let him out could have got so injured because of the electric fence, let alone the animals.

"Donkey is a very social horse and loves a head scratch. He's a very famous character in Dedham because he follows his belly and will go anywhere and do anything for food.

"It is nice that people come and say hello, they just need to be careful and not feed him".