A young pony’s life has been transformed since this time last year, when he was found collapsed and close to death at the bottom of a bank.

The yearling, named Frosty by the RSPCA, was spotted by a member of the public who contacted the charity and the fire service on 18 December.

RSPCA animal rescue officer Lisa Miller was called to the site of the pony in Belvedere and expected the worst.

“Sadly we are often called out to collapsed horses and find it’s too late and that they’ve died,” she said.

“It’s so dangerous when horses go down and can’t get back up as their internal organs can fail under the weight of their own bodies.

“When I got to the scene, the fire service had just arrived and we were quickly able to tell that the pony was in a perilous situation.

“He’d slipped down a muddy bank and was stuck, laying on his side, with his back legs caught around a tree and his front legs in the river. He’d been trying to get back to his feet and was exhausted; he was on the brink of death.”

Frosty had to be sedated so the team could put straps underneath him and winch him up the bank.

“By this point it was dark and raining so the poor pony was cold and we had to work quickly but carefully so as not to hurt him,” said Lisa.

“We eventually got him back to the top and got his sopping wet rug off him.

“He was absolutely exhausted and we were worried that he wouldn’t recover from the ordeal but slowly he started to perk up and we eventually managed to heave him back up onto his feet.”

The RSPCA removed the pony from the site for further veterinary treatment.

An owner did not come forward, so it is believed Frosty was dumped.

He went into the care of RSPCA Leybourne Animal Centre near Maidstone and in May, he was rehomed to Debbie Paine and her family.

Debbie, who lives with her husband Rob and four children welcomed Frosty, who is now named Cash, into their lives with open arms.

“I’ve always been on the lookout for a horse for my children and when I saw Cash on the RSPCA website, I just knew he was the one for us,” said Debbie.

“He came to us on 12 May and I managed to keep it a secret from my youngest three children, so when we went to the yard I surprised them with Cash.

“He is a very sweet and quiet boy, who had a terrible start to life but has definitely won the lottery with us.

“He is treated like a king and rightly so. He lives out in a herd and has paired up with a little three-year-old cob which is so lovely to see.

“Cash will be thoroughly spoilt for Christmas but then again, everyday is like Christmas for him now.”

Lisa added that it was “fantastic” to see Cash’s transformation.

“I’m delighted to see him in his new forever home,” she said. ”I have to admit that there were a few points where I wasn’t sure whether he was going to make it but he’s proved he’s a little fighter. He’s a Christmas miracle!”

Last Christmas Day, there were 893 equines in RSPCA care and 70 rescued throughout December.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands more animals. To support its work visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas