Life is looking up for a skewbald pony found close to death in a pile of rubbish by the side of a Kent lane last week.

Samantha Skinner was alerted to the dumped pony by a neighbour and took the horse to her stable while they waited for an RSPCA inspector and vet. A vet examination found severe infection in his legs, lice, liver damage and signs of a heart murmur. He was also badly bruised and emaciated.  His condition is so poor that the vet has not been able to confirm whether or not he has been gelded.

Because Samantha had taken the pony — now named Poppet — into her care, she has been advised by the RSPCA that he is now her responsibility. She persuaded the charity to pay for a £60 blood test to see whether it was worth saving him, but will have to foot the estimated £500 cost for initial treatment or euthanasia herself.

“I know the RSPCA is inundated, but I am a single mum with £3 in the bank,” said Samantha, who also owns a Hanoverian/Trakehner. “If I hadn’t helped him, the RSPCA would not have gone to him. You don’t walk past something like that. Even if they couldn’t help financially, I’d expect them to offer emotional or physical support. I don’t deal with this kind of case normally.”

An RSPCA press officer told H&H that they understood that the pony “is being cared for by someone who kindly rescued it”.

“We have contributed to his care, organised a vet to attend, and will continue to advise and help where we can,” she said. “Our rehoming centres are full to bursting and the RSPCA is struggling to cope.”

The RSPCA has received 523 horse-related complaints in Kent from January to May; 12,210 nationally.

Samantha took to Facebook to gather support instead — the page now has 500 friends. She has been offered money, rugs, food and physical help to secure a future for the colt. Henry’s Helping Hoof Charity has pledged £250 towards his treatment.

Poppet’s future is assessed on a day-to-day basis.

“Every day the vet finds something new, but he is brighter in himself, and certainly likes food,” said Samantha. “He won’t get better in four weeks, but somehow we’ll find a way to give him the best chance.”