By Hollie Bone
A horse infected with ‘monster lice’ so bad it looked like she had been splashed with mud is now on the road to recovery – after making an amazing transformation.
The 15-year-old Shetland mare, called Alice, was dirty and malnourished when she was rescued from a stray horse pound in Bedford and brought to Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham, Norwich on March 31.
Founder of the sanctuary, Wendy Valentine, 69, was checking Alice over when she noticed that the mare was covered in what appeared to be ‘splashes of mud’.
But upon closure inspection, Wendy was horrified to discover that the splashes of mud were actually ‘monster lice’ bigger than any she has ever seen in her 40-year career working with animals.
The animal lover said: “I thought she had been splashed with mud when I first looked at her but when I got closer I could see them crawling through her coat.
“They were like monster lice, I’ve never seen anything like them in my life, they were huge, the biggest lice I have ever seen.
“She was absolutely covered in them from head to toe, there were so many they were falling off her face.”
The Sanctuary knows very little about where Alice had come from or how long she had been abandoned but Wendy estimates that she could have had the lice for months.
Wendy and her team got to work on Alice straight away giving her an injection and washing her down with a special treatment to ensure all of the lice were killed off.
Now Alice is shedding her winter coat ready for the summer and is enjoying a proper diet fit for a horse.
And after just 10 days at Hillside Sanctuary, which cares for 2,500 horses, ponies and donkeys across Norfolk, she looks like a completely different animal and is unrecognisable from her previously sorry state.
Wendy, who has brought Alice back to her own home to ensure her recuperation stays on track, said: “She’s finally completely lice free and she’s enjoying three square meals a day.
“She was looking a bit thin when she arrived with us so she should be back to a good weight in a month or so.
“She seems really settled now. When she first came she was a bit stand-offish, she didn’t want you to touch her but she’s such an affectionate mare now.
“She loves people and being brushed, she really is a sweet, gentle, lovely horse.
“We will probably find another older mare to keep her company and just make sure that she’s never lacking again in the TLC she needs.”