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Tough little Elf joins a charity called ELF

Posted on: July 02, 2011

The shetland pony who suffered horrific leg injuries when dragged behind a car on Christmas day will make his first public appearance today. Elf's treatment at the hands of two men caused widespread anger in Australia, and his life hung in the balance for some weeks. Today, he will be making his first public appearance, at the Mitavite Queensland Festival of Dressage, at the Pine Lodge Equestrian Centre, in Taylor Road, Thornlands.

Elf got his new name from Queensland RSPCA staff after he was brought to its Fairfield Shelter after receiving specialised treatment at Redlands Equine Veterinary Clinic for over two weeks for his horrific leg and hoof injuries. "In over 40 years as an equine veterinarian, I believe Elf is the toughest little horse I have seen," Dr David Lovell said of Elf's fight back to health. "He arrived with four different problems, any one of which, in another horse, could well have been enough to bring about their demise. Not Elf!

"He had severe shock, abrasion wounds to eight different joints that had gone through skin and joint capsule and exposed the actual joints. "Plus, worst of all, the soles of both hind feet had been ground bare and he had developed a terrible case of laminitis." Lovell said it was almost unbelievable that Elf had bounced back from so many problems, and he anticipated he would have many years of a happy, healthy life.

In another twist of fate, Elf is now with a charity called ELF - Equine Learning for Futures - that develops and implements equine-based educational programmes for disadvantaged youths and children. The charity uses horses in the learning process to facilitate change, positive personal growth and promote positive self esteem. Founder Jill Strachan, who will be with Elf for his public appearance today, said: "Learning to work effectively with a flight animal takes effort and personal responsibility but the rewards are empowerment and an ability to make healthy behaviour and hence life choices." Elf will be a valuable addition to the organisation's equine team. "This could be a perfect life for Elf," said RSPCA Queensland senior veterinarian Dr Anne Chester.

The father and son who dragged Elf avoided jail terms in March. Zachery Hudson, 17, and Andrew Christopher Cook, 33, both of Murphys Creek, admitted animal cruelty when they appeared in the Gatton Magistrates Court. The court heard that the family home had been lost in Queensland's devastating floods little more than two weeks after the pony was dragged. Cook was sentenced to three months in jail, suspended for three years, during which time he has to stay out of trouble. Hudson received two years' probation and no conviction was recorded against his name. The men were each ordered to pay $3820 for vet bills for the care of the Shetland stallion, named Elf by the Queensland RSPCA.