IT'S not just humans who have felt the impact of lockdown.

A west Wales equine rescue trust is appealing for donations as it attempts to cope with the most challenging circumstances in its 35-year history.

Despite being closed to the public and unable to fundraise in their usual capacities, equine welfare and rescue work at Lluest Horse and Pony Trust in the Tywi Valley has had must continue even during lockdown ­– while maintaining social distancing.

When the trust received a call from a worried walker in March about a foal, staff knew they had to respond with the utmost urgency.

Dionne Schuurman, equine manager at Lluest, said: “What greeted us were the saddest most heart wrenching scenes; a tiny foal all alone and hungry, still trying to feed from her thin dead mother on the ground.”

The welfare team from the charity and vets from Dyffryn Tywi Equine Clinic scrambled to catch and guide the frightened foal to safety negotiating her over footbridges and fences.

Back safely at the trust, she was checked over properly by a vet, given a milk feed and the name Connie. She was estimated to be between two and three weeks old. She was fed every two hours around the clock and very quickly began to trust the team.

Since 1985, Lluest Horse and Pony Trust has rescued more than 400 horses, ponies and mules. Operating from a 40 acre farm in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, they rescue and rehabilitate equines from across Wales.

The charity’s ultimate aim is to rehome as many horses as possible, and provide long-term fulfilling homes. It aims to monitor the surrounding mountains for horses that are suffering or abandoned, to give out welfare and care advice to owners as well as respond to urgent welfare concerns like Connie.

Due to the horse welfare crisis across the UK, there are many more horses bred than can be cared for by owners, leading to higher numbers of rescues. Lluest has 28 horses and ponies currently on site, and this is set to rise further.

Dionne Schuurman said: “Rescue is just the beginning for a little foal like Connie. She will have a tough battle ahead to grow stronger and learn to be independent. As an orphan separated from her mother so young and found in such harsh conditions, she may well face health problems as she grows. For us, it’s the best result that she won't grow up in a life of neglect that she wouldn’t have survived.”

Connie is being fed every few hours but can now run around outside freely. She also had another stroke of luck with one of our resident ponies Abbie taking over as her mother.

Dionne Schuurman said: “It’s vital for an orphan foal to have equine company, and have a horse take her under their wing. Abbie was found wandering the streets before she came to us and arrived heavily in foal, sadly her foal died hours after birth. But she’s finally had a chance to mother a baby and since we introduced them, they haven’t looked back.”

Connie is already growing strong but attending to her care and that of 27 other horses and ponies is expensive. Just the care of Connie will cost approximately £380 a month for the rest of the year, not including if she needs unforeseen veterinary care. At this time, donations are vital to keep the charity going.

Lluest has been lucky enough to be supported by emergency funding during this crisis but their outgoings are up to £12,000 a month. Dionne Schuurman says: “The support of our community and funders so far has been amazing and we couldn’t have kept going without it.”

Watch Connie’s Story at