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A months-old colt found wandering on a motorway slip road is now on the road to recovery.

Coloured foal Wilbur was spotted by a driver on 19 January, on the Staithgate Lane slip road, which runs parallel to the M606 in Bradford.

RSPCA inspector Sophie John was sent to the scene.

“When I took the call about a pony loose so close to such a busy road, I knew I’d have to get there as quickly as possible,” she said. “Not only was he in danger himself, but he posed a serious risk to drivers too. Lots of lorries go up and down that road heading for the motorway, so it was of huge concern.”

Ms John was unable to catch the nervous pony, who appeared to be unused to human contact, so she called a colleague, who helped herd the colt into a field.

“It seemed Wilbur was delighted to be off the road and into a field, as he then proceeded to give us both the run-around,” Ms John added. “Unfortunately for us it was an enormous field and it took us ages to catch him as he trotted and cantered away from us, but at least we were in a safe space. Finally, we managed to catch him, just as a vet arrived.”

It was found that Wilbur’s winter coat was disguising the fact he was “among the thinnest ponies RSPCA inspectors see”, with a condition score of 1.5.

He had a swollen belly, caused by an “enormous worm burden” and a suspected chest infection.

But since he was moved to one of the local private boarding stables used by the RSPCA, Wilbur’s situation has dramatically improved.

“Despite his shaky start in life and his close call roaming beside a motorway, Wilbur’s now safely tucked up in a cosy stable, getting all the care he needs,” said RSPCA equine rehoming officer Jacqui Wilson.

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“He’s being treated for the large amount of worms he is suffering with and though he is severely thin and malnourished, we are confident we rescued him in time and he will make a good recovery.

“He’s a lovely, friendly little boy and I hope that one day he can be adopted by a loving family who will appreciate him.”

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