An emaciated pony who was discovered at the side of the road giving birth has come back from the brink and found her forever home.
Hope, who was just two years old when she was found in West Sussex, was so malnourished that she couldn’t physically give birth to her foal. The member of the public who found her had to assist and pull the foal out.
Miraculously, both Hope and her foal, Puddle, survived but it was no easy battle as the pair needed intensive treatment at Liphook Equine Hospital for four weeks before arriving at RSPCA Lockwood Centre for Horses and Donkeys.
Hope was very thin with overgrown hooves. Not only was she too weak to give birth, but she was also too weak to produce milk, meaning Puddle had to be partly hand-reared.
Puddle was also severely dehydrated with acute kidney failure.
Alice Robinson, Hope’s groom at RSPCA Lockwood, said: “We don’t know how poor Hope came to be in the horrible situation she was in. Chances are she was abandoned by someone who maybe couldn’t afford to keep her, or didn’t want her anymore.
"She was in a terrible condition and had clearly been neglected for a long time.
“After spending four weeks at the hospital both Hope and her foal Puddle came to Lockwood to continue their care and rehabilitation.
"It was apparent that Hope had no trust in people and was very nervous at the sight of anyone near her.
"Her foal was the opposite, she was more than happy with people being around her because she had partly been hand-fed substitute milk from humans while she was in care as Hope was too underweight to feed her.
“It took a long time for Hope to realise we weren’t going to do anything nasty, and we were just there to feed her and look after her.
"After six months, we were able to work with her. Once Puddle was weaned we were able to get near Hope, who was still very timid, and slowly but surely gain her trust.
"I started by just sitting with her in her stable or going to visit her in the field with a treat or a scratch and slowly increased these interactions until she realised I wasn’t going to hurt her.
"Our bond grew stronger and eventually she was able to trust me enough to be able to groom her and teach her how to have her feet picked up.
“As her confidence grew each day so did my attachment to her! It was so lovely to see her personality show more and more each day until she was able to relax without being fearful.
“Over time she underwent an amazing transformation from this frightened, weak little pony to a sweet and loving girl who was ready for her forever home.”
Hope went to her forever home in July 2017 with a lady called Lisa, along with another rescue - a donkey called Buttons.
Lisa travelled all the way from Norfolk to rehome Buttons from RSPCA Lockwood and when she heard Hope’s story, she couldn’t resist rehoming her too.
Lisa said: “When I heard her history, it broke my heart to think what she's been through but at least she’s safe now. When I listened to Alice telling her story I was crying and that was it - I just had to take her!”
“It took a long time to get her to trust us with her feet. I have a donkey who was really nervous as well so I was prepared for that. She had the same issues as him.”
"I’m really happy I took her. She trusts us with her feet now, and I give her lots of love, speak to her in a nice, calming voice and touch her head and she relaxes.
“She is still very scared of the sound of motorbikes or mopeds and when she hears them in the distance she becomes anxious. You’ve just got to keep them calm, and the others are calm so that helps, then slowly she begins to realise there is nothing to be frightened of.
“I don’t ride my horses and I don’t show them, I just keep them for the love of what they are. I don’t want anything from my animals and I don’t expect anything from her.
"That’s maybe why she’s settled in so well. At three years old, not to ride or show her, some people may think that’s a waste but I don’t see it like that. I do it for the love of animals and as long as they are happy then I’m happy.”
Puddle is still at RSPCA Lockwood and looking for her forever home.
The middleweight cob is relatively easy to handle, and at one year old can be quite cheeky. She is affectionate and adores people and attention. She is looking for a home where she can enjoy exploring the world outside of Lockwood.
She stands at 12hh and still growing, which means she's sometimes a little unaware of her own strength but she's never aggressive.
She will need a home where she can live with other equines and an owner that has experience with horses with sweet itch as Puddle can suffer quite badly. It's under control now but will need careful management.
If you think you can offer Puddle a loving home, contact RSPCA Lockwood on 0300 123 0720