Gambolling free and chomping grass to her heart’s content, Cinders the wonder horse is a sight to behold.
Her red eyes are the only obvious sign of the horrific acid attack this one-year-old cob pony endured.
In five months she has made a remarkable recovery from the brink of death, thanks to the generosity of the public, the skill and devotion of a transatlantic medical team, and a ‘world-first’ operation involving the skin of freshwater fish to treat her burns.
Cinders is now healthy and happy and following the success of her pioneering treatment she will today start a new life with a horse-loving Yorkshire family.
There seemed little hope for this poor foal when she was found dumped in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, in April.
After months of surgery and medical treatment, Cinders made a remarkable recovery from the horrific acid burns five months ago
She appeared to have had a chemical substance such as acid thrown in her face, causing shocking injuries. She was desperately underweight, weak and in poor health from parasites, and required blood transfusions to keep her alive.
The RSPCA sent her to the Rainbow Equine Hospital in Malton, North Yorkshire, where vet David Rendle and his team contemplated whether Cinders, named after Cinderella, could be saved.
They decided to do everything they could to help Cinders following a remarkable public response to a JustGiving internet appeal to fund her treatment which raised £30,000 in a few weeks.
Three operations, lasting a total of ten hours, followed and involved vets from Britain and the US, NHS plastic surgeons and nurses.
Affectionately named ‘Cinders’ by her rescuers after her nightmare ordeal, she sustained injuries that left her skin blistered (left) and pictured (right) with bandages around head after pioneering operation
After her chemically burnt head was cleaned up in an initial operation, Dr Jamie Peyton from the University of California flew to Britain to apply her pioneering fish skin technique to a horse for the first time.
She brought with her skins of the freshwater fish tilapia which had had their scales removed, sterilised and stored in the fridge.
The skins have been used as a cheap and effective dressing on human burns victims in Brazil and more recently by Dr Peyton to treat bears burnt in Californian wildfires.
The fish skin forms a protective barrier to retain moisture and aid pain relief and is a source of collagen, which promotes the skin’s own rebuilding process.
In the operating theatre Dr Peyton and her team sutured half a dozen fish skins to Cinders’ head.
The skins were removed after about two weeks. A third operation was needed to graft skin taken from Cinders’ back to around her eyelids and above her mouth.
This was carried out by a plastic surgeon from the burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Pink skin and black streaks on her muzzle area will remain as a legacy of this vital treatment enabling her to see and eat properly.
Then began a gradual period of recovery in which Cinders slowly returned to health and her skin and fur regenerated.
Cinders’ the horse during one of several operations at the hospital in May in which Tilapia fish scales are used to heal a pony’s face in a world first operation by US surgeons
You don’t need to be a horse expert to realise what a superb job the medical team of vets and doctors, who provided their time free of charge, had done.
Her weight has recovered from 20st when she arrived to a very healthy 36st now.
‘She eats a bit slowly because of her lip and skin grafts but has no major health issues,’ said Mr Rendle.
‘There is no reason to believe she is in discomfort as she behaves very normally.
‘It has been a gradual process of recovery. She is ready to go to a new home where she will be spoilt rotten and want for nothing.’
He added: ‘She has a wonderful mischievous nature. She sneaks up behind you and looks in your pocket for food and she will give you a little nibble if you don’t pay her enough attention.
‘The injuries were as bad as they get and we came very close to putting her down. Thankfully it has worked out well for Cinders.’