SPCA New Zealand

PJ the horse's story of survival

01 July 2019
PJ the horse's story of survival

​When PJ was rescued by SPCA Inspector Sam, he had severe injuries that had been left untreated.

“His medical issues were very serious. And at one point we didn’t think he would recover,” says Sam.

It is so upsetting to see a malnourished or starved horse, and PJ was sadly a victim of serious neglect. The property he was found on had far too many animals, and none of them were being cared for properly.

PJ had a severe hoof abscess on his front foot and was suffering from refeeding syndrome. This is when horses’ metabolisms are disrupted from being starved, and months of mistreatment cannot be undone in a few days or weeks. Refeeding syndrome can cause neurological signs, or even death due to cardiac or pulmonary failure. And when they are fed large amounts of carbohydrates before the horse’s stomach has had time to adapt, it can result in colic, diarrhoea, and laminitis.

When he was rescued, PJ needed urgent veterinary treatment. The SPCA team knew it would be a long road to recovery, but after almost a year of love and care, PJ now has the most idyllic life with his new family.

PJ’s new mum Robyn says she wasn’t looking for another horse when she spotted him on Facebook. She already had two horses – 10-year-old mare Lisa and 23-year-old gelding Merit.

“But when I saw PJ’s post I thought, he is mine,” says Robyn.

She immediately came to SPCA with a couple of friends to meet PJ, and all of them fell in love with him. “Their initial words were ‘he is so yummy,’ and he is,” says Robyn. “He is so friendly and kind.”

After such a long time at SPCA, the team was so excited to watch PJ walk onto the horse float, and begin the journey to his new forever home. He had finally found someone who would love him unconditionally, and make sure he never had to suffer again.

Robyn says she has ridden PJ a couple of times, and two young children have even had a quiet walk on him. “He is very gentle,” she adds.

PJ also quickly learnt to ignore Robyn’s young dog who likes to jump into the paddock and play chase. “I was a bit worried at first, but PJ eventually caught on. He is very sensible and figured it out pretty quickly.”

However, PJ also has a cheeky side. Robyn says he likes to play with his food bins after he has finished his feed, and has broken a couple. “He also really likes to have a good hoon around the paddock, and certainly puts on a good show,” laughs Robyn.

The good news is that other than his front feet, PJ isn’t showing any lasting effects of his past neglect. “He is in high spirits, gets along well with my other horses, and doesn’t have a bad bone in his body,” says Robyn. “He is easy to catch and handle, and has stunning movement. I can’t understand how anyone could neglect him.”

Who knows how long PJ suffered, but he is an example of why animals continue to surprise us with their resilience and ability to forgive. “We have nicknamed him Curious George because he wants to know everything and meet everyone,” says Robyn.

“If I was to describe him in three words it would be – friendly, sensible, and kind.”

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