This Pony Was About To Die, When An Extraordinary Woman Changed Everything.
All alone in the forest, a four-month-old wild Exmoor foal found himself just days from death. He was starving, and the chilly, wet weather had left him with pneumonia. He was too weak to stand, and the grass and plants around him had grown too mossy to eat.
That's when Dawn Westcott came to the rescue.
Describe as a "pony whisperer," Westcott is an expert on the endangered Exmoor breed, and knew how to communicate with him. Before she would be able to help, though, she had to gain his trust. See how she did it in the story below.
Normally, Exmoor horses would run away when approached by humans, but this one was too weak to flee.
All he could do was alternate between sitting and standing, too feeble to actually run away.
That proved to be a good thing, though: Westcott was able to approach him and coach him gently into a reign.
It took some time to gain the animal's trust.
But eventually, Westcott and her team were able to lead him to safety.
It was just in time, too: As you can see from the foal's condition, it wasn't going to survive for much longer.
Westcott was the perfect person to handle the situation, as she runs the Exmoor Foal Project: The initiative protects these horses by teaching its team "pony whispering" techniques, along with kind, patient handling.
She named him Monsier Chapeau -- chapeau means "hats off" in French, and the name was meant to congratulate the brave foal on his fast recovery.
"On that first day," Westcott said in an interview, "He sniffed up my nose. Ponies greet each other by putting their nostrils close to each other, gently breathing and exchanging air, and can tell if other ponies are friendly or not. He wanted that connection with me. I try to listen to the ponies and have a two-way communication, not just tame ponies by telling them what to do. It's all about 'going softer' -- listening to each other and having mutual understanding. A suppression of human ego, and striving to empathize with the horse."
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