A pas­sion for ponies

Netta LeDrew ded­i­cat­ing her life to New­found­land ponies at Change Is­lands sanc­tu­ary

The Pilot - - Focus - BY CLARENCE NGOH clarence.ngoh@gan­der­bea­con.ca

CHANGE IS­LANDS, NL – Her eyes glaze as she holds back tears.

“I lost him to cancer five years ago, and I loved him,” Netta LeDrew said.

She pauses and takes an­other deep breath.

“I loved him. And kids. He was a sweet­heart with kids. We put a nine-month lit­tle girl on his back – grandma was hold­ing her while they took pic­tures. And he never moved, and I did not have to hold him on. It was un­be­liev­able.”

You could eas­ily think LeDrew, owner of the New­found­land Pony Sanc­tu­ary at Change Is­lands, is mourn­ing the loss of a child; in­stead, she’s talk­ing about Prince, a New­found­land pony from Point Leam­ing­ton. It’s dif­fi­cult to dis­cern where the emo­tional bound­ary for an­i­mals and peo­ple stops and starts – it’s ev­i­dent the loss of Prince is still deeply felt, and the flicker of a smile brings back many fond mem­o­ries. As LeDrew re­cites the names of the horses un­der her care, she stops at An­gel.

“She was an an­gel – we had to bot­tle-feed her be­cause her mum re­fused her. It was so piti­ful,” she said.

“I didn’t think she was go­ing to sur­vive – she did not get any of her mother’s milk. She was born pre­ma­ture.”

LeDrew picks up a cou­ple of tis­sues, wipes her tears and pauses for a long while.

“I was get­ting three hours of sleep for a while, for five weeks, I think. I was up till 2:30 in the morn­ing. She was a lit­tle dar­ling. So sweet. Her eyes look so blue.”

A ve­teri­nar­ian told LeDrew An­gel could not be saved be­cause she did not have her mother’s milk, and would be prone to in­fec­tion.

“I said OK, and de­fi­antly car­ried on,” LeDrew said.

The lo­cal com­mu­nity ral­lied with her to save An­gel by bring­ing in milk and blan­kets, and “we proved them wrong.”

It was not the first time LeDrew went against the or­ders of a ve­teri­nar­ian’s prog­no­sis.

An­other pony, Lily, had a “re­ally bad ac­ci­dent – life threat­en­ing.”

A rope got caught around the pony’s leg and left a very large wound. Ac­cord­ing to LeDrew, a locum ve­teri­nar­ian stitched up the wound and ad­vised her to change the dress­ing ev­ery sec­ond day. At the same time, fur­ther con­sults with the head ve­teri­nar­ian in­di­cated Lily had to be put down be­cause of scar tis­sue.

“I said to the ve­teri­nar­ian to go back to the head vet, and tell him he doesn’t know who he is deal­ing with be­cause I am go­ing to give her a chance,” she said. “I dis­obeyed the doc­tor, and changed the ban­dage ev­ery day, and washed it with saline and io­dine. Four-and-a-half months is what it took us.

“On her leg to­day, there is a lit­tle spot that we had to burn off some scar tis­sue. God love her. I couldn’t lose her,” Le Drew proudly ex­plains.

The ponies in the sanc­tu­ary are main­tained by dona­tions, fundrais­ing, govern­ment sup­port and money awarded from the Aviva Com­mu­nity Fund na­tional grand prize of $90,000, which went to­wards the sanc­tu­ary’s new fa­cil­ity.

There is not much LeDrew cares more about than her ponies.

“I love ponies and horses, and it’s been a long road.”

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Trin­ity Pen­nell, 12, rid­ing Colby. Pen­nell has been help­ing Netta LeDrew at the New­found­land Pony Sanc­tu­ary on Change Is­lands since 2016. She ap­proached LeDrew to learn how to ride horses and of­fered to help in the sanc­tu­ary. The first time she wanted to ride there was no hel­met that fit her, so she would bring her own. “I was wee lit­tle,” Pen­nell says.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Trin­ity Pen­nell (left) with Char­lie and Netta LeDrew. Pen­nell helps out at the New­found­land Pony Sanc­tu­ary on week­ends and some­times af­ter school. She’s al­ler­gic to an­i­mal fur, “but I still come back,” Pen­nell says.

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