An abandoned pony which was found emancipated on a pile of rubble has been nursed back to full health by a team of dedicated volunteers.
The draggled five-month-old foul was pictured on his side surrounded by mounds of tyres, covered with an old mattress, at the beginning of December last year.
And welfare specialists from Redwings Horse Sanctuary later found the colt needed rapid surgery on infected wounds and even had mites all over his legs.
But after weeks of dedicated treatments, the horse – named Barney by volunteers – has become a picture of health and loves skipping around his new paddock.
Redwings Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman, who oversaw Barney’s recovery, said it was “wonderful” to see the plucky young horse’s character come out.
She said: “It’s wonderful to see him now – he’s bright and has a character, skipping and bucking around his stable and going out for a daily turnout on the woodchips.
“He’s doing so well. This is why we all do this.”
The team from the sanctuary near the village of Nazeing, in Essex, said Barney had been in a woeful state when they first came across him.
And Jo Franklin, Redwings Senior Field Officer, said she was even concerned that he wouldn’t have a “happy ending” based on his initial appearance.
She said: “Little Barney was in a very poor state when he was found, and we were worried his might not be a happy ending.
“He was lying, collapsed and upside down, in a pile of rubble, partially covered by an old mattress.
“An RSPCA officer and vets from House & Jackson managed to get him on to his feet and warm him up, and I transported him to their Equine Veterinary Hospital where he stayed for two weeks.
“He couldn’t stand unaided and had a significant worm burden which he was treated for.”
Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman then took over Barney’s care, and step by step, she managed to nurse him back to full health.
She said: “Barney was able to stand up and lay down himself by the time he came to us, but he was very quiet and weak.
“Clinically he was doing better, but he was a very sad, emaciated little pony.
“He had an infected wound on his left hip which needed surgery to remove the dead tissue and daily dressing changes to protect it.
“Barney was so skinny and the weather so cold that he had to wear a rug and without dressings, the rug could have rubbed on it.
“So it was important the team carefully cleaned and redressed the wound daily.
“The poor boy also had very itchy legs and has been treated for mites.
She added: “It took several weeks to heal – and an incredibly dedicated effort from the team – with the last dressing finally removed on 25th January.
Despite an RSPCA investigation, no owner could be identified, and Barney has now been offered a forever home at the Sanctuary.
Last year Redwings took in 109 horses and ponies, including Barney.
Redwings’ field officers identified and intervened in 175 cases in 2022, improving the conditions of 622 horses through advice to owners or the removal of the equine into their care.