A tiny new arrival has been causing a stir at equine charity Bransby Horses. Born weighing just 12kg, Pika’s dam miniature Shetland Polly stands at just 8hh, so her diminutive colt was expected to be small, and since arriving is the smallest pony the rescue centre has had in its care.

“We had been watching Polly very carefully for the past few days, expecting a foal to arrive any day,” said Bransby Horses’ Senior Press Officer, Maria Thompson. “She was so quick to give birth that when she was checked at supper time there was no sign, and half an hour later there she was with her foal.

“We just can’t get over how lovely they both are. We have had to adjust the fencing as it’s too high and would not keep Pika safe. We are so pleased both mother and son are doing well as it was touch and go for Polly when she first came to us but, thanks to our wonderful supporters, we were able to provide the care she needed.”

Bransby staff will be on the look out for health issues Pika may experience as he gets older. Being smaller, miniature Shetland ponies can be more susceptible to poor welfare and health conditions, including teeth problems and obesity.

“While they may look cute, we really would not recommend breeding or purchasing miniature ponies without careful thought and consideration,” said Welfare Manager, Rachel Jenkinson. “Like all equines, Shetland ponies and miniatures need specialist care and management and should only be taken on by knowledgeable people who are prepared to put the animal’s needs first for their entire lifetime, which can be well over a 30-year commitment.”

L-R: Pikachu, Polly

Polly was first seen by a vet at one of the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Healthcare Clinics. These clinics are aimed at engaging hard-to-reach communities and provide free advice and reduced cost services such as passporting, gelding, farrier services, a weigh bridge and veterinary advice to horse owners.

Bransby Horses work with the BHS at these clinics and, as was the case of Polly, are able to take in a vulnerable equine when there is no other viable option.

“Polly was very sick when we first saw her,” said Bransby Horses’ Welfare and Rescue Officer, Nadine Hall. “Her breathing was laboured, and she had muscle tremors. She had a suspected calcium deficiency, and further veterinary investigations showed her liver was not working, a condition which may require long term [sanctuary] care, alongside her pregnancy.

“After initial treatment to ensure she was well enough to travel, she was first taken to a specialist equine hospital for urgent medical attention. She very nearly died because of her conditions. Following a miraculous recovery, Polly was transported to our intensive care unit where she gave birth a few weeks later.

“So far mother and baby are doing well, Polly has responded to liver treatment and the liver is starting to work now, although there is still ongoing healing. We are monitoring them closely and hope to get them out into a bigger paddock once we have adjusted the fencing.”

To find out more, visit BransbyHorses.co.uk Please note that Pika and Polly are not on view to the public at this time.

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