An experienced equestrian has shared the story of a pony she took on in a desperate state, with teeth worn to stumps and severely swollen legs, and how Bransby Horses helped her provide the gelding with a positive future.

Ellie Haynes was originally looking for a safe hacking pony for her elderly mother. She saw an advert for a 14hh black gelding, called Oliver, and he sounded perfect.

When she went to view Oliver at first he seemed as described, he was friendly and appeared to be in good condition. However on closer inspection his legs were very swollen, sore and in urgent need of veterinary attention.

“I was told they had owned him all his life and were only selling because the owner was pregnant, but when I got there, it was apparent that just wasn’t the case,” Ellie said.

“There was no definition to his legs from the knee to the foot – it was awful. There were so many lumps and bumps on them they looked like onion bhajis. His feet hadn’t been trimmed by a trained farrier and were so tall he looked like he was on stilts.

“I bought him there and then – I just couldn’t leave him.”

Ellie paid the full £2,000 asking price for the cob and took him back to the livery yard where she kept her other horses.

She hoped Oliver  would make a full recovery with the correct veterinary attention but over £1,000 in veterinary bills later, Ellie was forced to rethink.

“We got to a point where we realised Oliver needed more than I could give him,” she said. “So, I called Bransby Horses for some advice and they were just amazing. I told them everything that had happened, and we agreed he needed to go to Bransby Horses if he was to have any chance of survival.”

Ellie called the charity’s welfare phone line where she was able to talk through the best options for Oliver, who was suffering Chronic Progressive Lymphedema (CPL) – which a serious inflammatory skin condition seen in draft, cob and heavier horses with feathering.

There is no cure for CPL, but intensive management can slow progression and improve quality of life, however the condition can be permanent, cause lameness and be life-limiting.

In addition to CPL, Oliver’s front incisor teeth were worn down to stubs, which the vet who first saw him suspects was caused by living on concrete, forcing him to eat grass growing through the cracks.

“Considering the pain and discomfort he was clearly in he should hate people, but he is the most loving pony I’ve ever had,” Ellie said. “He was in such a terrible state we couldn’t leave him.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the money I’ve spent but, if the owner came to me today and said he’d take Oliver back and give me a full refund, I’d refuse. There’s just no way I could have left him there, he is the loveliest pony.”

Oliver and Ellie were also supported by some of the people who kept their horses on their yard, helping with bills and donating rugs and feed for him.

Bransby Horses is one of the UK’s largest equine welfare charities and sees hundreds of cases of neglect every year. They can provide advice and guidance in most situations but horses are taken in on a case-by-case basis.

For anyone who is concerned about a horse, pony, donkey or mule, the charity’s welfare phone line is open weekdays from 9am to 3pm on 01427 787 369 or email:

For further information visit

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