The Horse Trust has given emergency care to an 18-month-old bay colt that they described as the 'worst case of animal neglect they've seen'.
Colleagues from the RSPCA removed this painfully thin, dehydrated and pitiful pony from a field in Bedfordshire last week.
Arriving at The Horse Trust late in the evening, 12hh Quest - so named because of the unusual question mark shaped stripe on his face - was barely able to stand and was crawling with lice.
So weak, he had to be helped to walk the few paces to his isolation stable and it was touch and go whether he would survive the night.
Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust, said: “He arrived in a worse condition than the Spindles Farm ponies, which made such dramatic and widespread headlines in January 2008 when they were rescued from their own horrors of neglect.
“We are doing everything we can to save him but it is going to be an incredibly long road for this poor little chap and right now his fate still lies in the balance; no-one here has ever seen a pony so thin yet still alive and standing.”
After a fully veterinary assessment, there is no doubt Quest will need a lot of medical treatment and special care and it is still unknown at this stage if he will survive, such is the severity of his condition.
Quest is chronically underweight, very weak and has several limb deformities, but he is able to move slowly.
However, he surprised the Horse Trust staff as he survived the first night and he has made very small signs of progress over the past few days.
RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall said: “Quest is typical of the type of pony we are finding abandoned and neglected – 18 month old colts with no value. It is one of the worst cases I have had to deal with.”
Jeanette Allen of The Horse Trust believes that overbreeding has led to more horses being abandoned: “Poor quality breeding can often mean there is little incentive to provide good standards of care and subsequently these animals are often neglected or abandoned.
“Charities such as the Horse Trust and the RSPCA have limited spaces and resources and we need all the help we can get at a time when more horses and ponies than ever are being abandoned,” Jeanette added.