Horse suffers liver failure and nearly dies after being fed by walkers

Daniel Nichols with his daughter Courtney on their horses Taric and Mrs P

Daniel Nichols with his daughter Courtney on their horses Mrs P and Taric - Credit: Nichols family

Owners of horses in Claydon have issued a desperate plea for walkers to stop feeding the animals in fields - after one developed liver failure and nearly died.

Daniel Nichols lives in Somersham with wife Lorraine, daughter Courtney and son Warwick, keeping several horses a short distance away in Claydon.

The horse-mad family nearly lost their beloved mare Mrs P last year, when people walking on the nearby footpaths fed her food she isn't used to.

Lauren, aged 15, is a keen rider and Mrs P is an experienced eventing horse

Courtney, aged 15, is a keen rider and Mrs P is an experienced eventing horse - Credit: Nichols family

She developed colic, an illness caused by being fed the wrong food or excessive amounts of food - which is potentially fatal for horses - before developing liver failure.

Fortunately, she was saved by a vet - but the family know others who have lost horses during lockdown and fear it is the hordes of walkers who feed them, unaware that too much food or the wrong food could be fatal.


You may also want to watch:


"We have never seen that many people walking in the area," Mr Nichols said.

"They just appeared during the first lockdown, so we put signs up all along the footpaths asking people not to feed them - but the signs got ripped down.

Most Read

"We even moved the horses into paddocks further away from the footpath but people still threw food in for them — I stopped one man doing it and he shouted at me saying his kids wanted to feed the horses, he didn't seem to understand it is dangerous for them.

"It is very upsetting, their safety is a worry but you can't be there 24/7 to watch out for them."

The man was throwing bread in for horses — another potential cause of colic, as it can cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal system.

The Nichols family keep several horses in Claydon

The Nichols family keep several horses in Claydon - Credit: Nichols family

Horse owners have not faced this issue on such a large scale before and fear it is because lockdown has driven large numbers of people into the countryside. 

Mr Nichols feels it is impossible to educate people one to one, as there are hundreds who come by on the footpaths.

However, he hopes raising awareness might not stop  it happening again.

Taric is one of the Nichols' family horses kept in Claydon where passers-by have been feeding them

Taric is one of the Nichols' family horses kept in Claydon where passers-by have been feeding them - Credit: Nichols family

Lockdown walkers have recently come under fire for destroying footpaths and bridleways in Suffolk after one farmer spoke out about the damage being caused to crops.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus