A coloured gelding has transformed from a desperate welfare case to a dream family pony and champion in the show ring, after finding his forever home.

Athos was rescued by Tia Rescue when he was found neglected in a field with four other horses. Unfortunately one of his companions died before the charity were able to gain ownership of the herd, but Athos was able to be taken into their care.

Athos was taken in by Tia Rescue after he was found in a state of neglect

Once he was nursed back to health and able to be rehomed, he was viewed by Leona Gudger, who was looking for a pony for her then 10-year-old daughter, Mia. Leona fell in love with the youngster, and with the help of her experienced horsey friend Shaz, she decided to take him on.

Athos flourished in his new home and he was slowly brought on by Mia. He was just two when they first got him, but his loveable nature shone through and he took to new challenges with ease.

Athos and Mia have formed a close bond

Mia was able to back him herself and began showing him in 2021. They attended a few local shows and Athos impressed the judges, bagging firsts in his classes. In that same season he secured a wildcard for TOYS (Traditional of the Year Show).

Then last year, Athos surpassed all expectations at STARS Champion of Champions show, winning his class and being crowned supreme (pictured, top).

Mia has even taught Athos to smile with the aid of treats!

“When they announced the results in reverse and said who was third, I almost stopped filming as I didn’t think they’d come anywhere,” said Leona. “We couldn’t believe it. It was just amazing and quite emotional, my husband was in tears.”

Leona said Lloc and District Riding Club had given them invaluable support and advice throughout their journey, as well as Shaz and her husband Steve, whose yard Athos is kept at.

The pair have gone from strength-to-strength

Mia has grand hopes for Athos’ future, with TOYS later this year and dreams of Horse of the Year Show.

“Athos just takes it all in his stride, he’s so well behaved,” added Leona. “He trusts Mia 100% and she trusts him 100%, it’s a lovely relationship.”

Check out our subscription offer

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue