A young pony named Buggy who was discovered by World Horse Welfare just over a year ago with terrible wounds on his back that had become infested with maggots has been crowned 2017 Champion at Equifest.
Buggy’s inspirational story and transformation helped him achieve first place in one of his two classes at Equifest on Saturday and he then went on to the evening championship where he was awarded the title of PRP/RSPCA Rescue Pony Champion, presented by RSPCA Interim Chief Executive Michael Ward.
Buggy’s success wasn’t the only cause for celebration for World Horse Welfare over the weekend, with World Horse Welfare Charlie taking the top spot in the ridden class and 5th in-hand, World Horse Welfare Floss taking second place in her ridden class and sixth in-hand, World Horse Welfare Hope claiming 4th and 5th prizes in her two classes and World Horse Welfare Hamgrove Chrystal taking 6th place in her class.
Buggy was discovered just over one year ago in a field near Hillam, Leeds, just a few months old and almost too weak to stand, with live maggots eating through deep wounds which had been left untreated on his back.
Poor Buggy needed urgent veterinary attention before he was transported to the safety of World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre to undergo rehabilitation.
World Horse Welfare Penny Farm Manager, Fran Williamson, said: “We are all absolutely over the moon with Buggy’s championship and proud of what he and the other ponies have achieved at Equifest.
"Buggy’s story is a shining example of how a pony who has had such a terrible start in life can leave his past behind and go on to achieve amazing things.
"He’s such a sweet little character and is much-loved by everyone at World Horse Welfare, plus the many visitors who come to Penny Farm every week so I think it’s safe to say there will be many people celebrating his success!
“Buggy will soon be ready to find a new home on our Rehoming Scheme but as with all our horses and ponies, he will always remain in World Horse Welfare’s ownership safeguarding his welfare.”
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde who heads up the charity's equine team said: "I am absolutely delighted that little Buggy was crowned the PRP/RSPCA Rescue Pony of the Year, he is a very deserving winner.
"The suffering Buggy endured before he was rescued is unthinkable, but to see him trotting around the prestigious Equifest arena with his sash and ribbons was very moving.
"The RSPCA and World Horse Welfare work very closely on horse rescues and together have tackled some of the country's worst cases of neglect and suffering.
"Since our teams rescued Buggy together, the team at Penny Farm have done an incredible job rehabilitating him. It's been very special for us all to see him shine at Equifest."
Buggy was crowned the winner by a panel of judges, comprising of: Mrs Katy Carter, Mrs Marge Cartlidge, Mr Lee Clarke, Miss Julie Crowley, Mrs Helen Horsfall and Mrs Jo Jefferson.
Miss Crowley and Mrs Helen Horsfall said: "It was an honour to judge the rescue horse championship class, and while all the horses and ponies were a credit to their owners and the rescue teams, Buggy took our eye straight away.
"How horses are still being treated this cruelly today is beyond us. Buggy's story was so incredibly powerful, and despite him still having the scars to show his ordeal, he is a super little pony and was a clear winner.
"It's very challenging judging the rescue class, reading the ponies’ history is tough and seeing the photos is even tougher. You think of your own horses and how much you love and care for them, and it makes you realise that so many horses are just not that lucky. It's very humbling."