Horse found abandoned in field so over-bred rescuers thought she was a cow
- Credit: Remus Sanctuary
A horse named Minstral was first thought to be a cow when she was spotted by rescuers in a field in Witham - because she had a huge hernia which looked like an udder.
Minstral, a 28-year-old mixed breed horse, was also found with white markings on her face.
Sue Burton, founder and manager of Remus Horse Sanctuary, said Minstral's herniated belly was so swollen she initially believed she was saving a cow.
"When you look at her from behind, and I approached her from behind, with the huge hernia she looked like a cow with an udder," explained Sue.
"She was very down and depressed and at first we thought she might only have a few months to live but amazingly she has thrived and coped very well with the hernia."
A hernia is an abnormal opening in the abdomen, which causes a protrusion of organ tissues through the opening.
Hernias are typically accompanied with swelling on the horse’s abdomen, like with Minstral.
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The discolouration on Minstral's face is caused by a skin condition called vitiligo, which also affects humans.
According to Sue, the unusual markings around her eyes are believed to be the cause of her being over-bred.
Sue explained: "The markings are every unusual and made her so attractive for breeding."
The overbreeding is what Sue believes led to the hernia, which made her look similar to a cow upon first glance.
Minstral hasn't had any operations for the hernia due to its size, but not long after she was taken into the sanctuary, she had a weepy eye.
Soon, the eye blew so vets removed it.
Despite this, Sue said Minstral has completely settled into the sanctuary and described her as a "lovely mare" who has a "gentle temperament".
She has now been given a second chance with the help of Remus Horse Sanctuary in Ingatestone.