12 Aug 2022

"One of the worst cases I've seen" - ISPCA rescue Shetland pony with horrifically overgrown hooves

"One of the worst cases I've seen" - ISPCA rescue Shetland pony with horrifically overgrown hooves

The pony with the overgrown hooves

The ISPCA rescued an abandoned Shetland pony in Co Offaly with hooves so horrifically overgrown, that he could hardly walk or move, due to the extreme pain he was suffering.

The pony was immediately transported for urgent farrier treatment.

The ISPCA has seized over 50 horses this year with 35 in the last 2 months.

The Association is currently caring for 73 equines at its three animal centres.

On responding to a call made to the National Animal Cruelty Helpline from a concerned member of the public, frontline Inspector Deirdre Scally investigated the call.

She said:  “When I discovered the pony and saw the level of neglect he had endured, it was one of the most distressing and worst cases I have ever seen”.


The pony, now named Apache, was immediately transported to the National Animal Centre in Longford for urgent farrier treatment.  From that moment, Apache’s life was to change forever.

Investigations are continuing to locate the owner of the pony as he was not microchipped, which is a legal requirement.

“Apache struggled to even walk, he was in such severe pain with every step he took.  It was totally heart-wrenching to see him suffering so much. I had to act immediately to get the pony the help he desperately needed”, said Deirdre.

Deirdre added:  “Apache is now doing really well in ISPCA care however, he has a long slow road ahead of him requiring ongoing and extensive farrier treatment.  He will need to remain in our care for some time before we can begin to prepare him for a new loving home. Apache is enjoying a deep-bedded stable as his hooves are still tender, and some daylight hours on soft grass.  He is improving daily and is expected to make a full recovery, thanks to the expert care he is receiving from our equine team”.

“It would have taken a very a long time for Apache’s hooves to grow to this horrific state and this case highlights the importance of regular hoof care, a crucial component of responsible pet ownership”, added Deirdre.

Common hoof problems can be avoided by picking out hooves regularly, cleaning the frog and scraping off any remaining mud from the soles along with regular farrier care.

Regular trimming by a qualified farrier is recommended every six to eight weeks which, would also identify and correct any hoof problems, and prevent serious issues like those encountered by Inspector Scally.

The ISPCA is currently caring for 73 equines at our centres and our frontline Inspectors have already seized over 51 equines so far this year, 35 in the past nine weeks alone during the COVID-19 crisis.

It can cost thousands of euros to care for a single equine like Apache. The ISPCA relies on public donations to continue our vital work rescuing, rehabilitating and responsibly rehoming hundreds of vulnerable animals that desperately need our help.

If you can, please donate online at

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