“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the woman who took in a dumped stallion with a tail so long it dragged feet behind him on the floor.

The young cob and a months-old colt, now named Ken and Bruce, were dumped on the drive of Isleham Horse and Pony Rescue Centre in Cambridgeshire, on 26 January.

Ken’s feet had “clearly never been near a farrier”, and he was carrying a “vast amount of weight” in matted, mud-caked feathers.

“Bruce was severely malnourished, not even knowing what horse food was, he was so weak he wobbled when he walked,” said Hayley Davies, whose mother Wendy founded the sanctuary some 30 years ago.

“Both were unloved and scared of all human contact.”

Mrs Davies told H&H the owner of a horse kept at the sanctuary noticed a lorry pull up at about 10pm.

“She went to see what was happening and found these two had been abandoned,” Mrs Davies said. “They could have gone the other way, on to the main road, but luckily they came towards the yard.”

The pair were enticed into a temporary shelter for the night and Mrs Davies had her first proper sight of them the next morning.

“I’ve had horses for over 40 years and taken in a lot of rescues and I have never seen anything like Ken,” she said.

“With every step he was treading on his tail. His feathers were so heavy with all the matted hair and mud; we cut a vast amount of hair off and put it in a bag and we couldn’t lift it. He walks with much more ease now.”

Ken’s neglected feet were “absolutely terrible” and he had a wound to his lip, she added, while Bruce was given only a 50% chance to survival by her vet, owing to his malnourished state.

A JustGiving page set up to raise £1,000 for the horses’ care has already attracted more than £1,700 in donations.

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“But he’s eating now and I can see a big improvement already,” she said. “He was full of worms, which we’ve hopefully cleared up, and I think he’s got a good chance.

“He doesn’t quite trust us yet but the older one is really sweet; we’ve brushed and brushed him and hope he will make a good recovery.”