Two rescued Shetland ponies had their first ever nibble of fresh grass this month, having spent a lifetime without it.

Jenny, aged 15, and her son Percy, 5, were admitted to the Blue Cross equine centre in Rolleston-on-Dove, Staffordshire, on 29 September when their elderly owner realised he could no longer care for them.

Previously, the Shetlands were kept in a small shed, and occasionally turned out into a tiny yard to stretch their legs. Although they were fed hay, their diet had also included digestive biscuits and chopped banana skins.

Percy also suffered from a condition called “locking stifle”, that prevented him from walking properly. He has since undergone a routine operation that has solved the problem.

“The major issue has been getting them used to being handled,” explained Sarah Shepherd, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross. “It has taken lots of care and attention to get them used to it.

“They are getting used to it and have come on fantastically. They were given their first pick of grass on the end of a lead rope earlier this month.”

Carers are hoping that before long, the two ponies will be able to be set loose to graze in the field and socialise with other residents.

“It will be lovely to turn Jenny and Percy out onto grass for the first time,” said Becky Smith, Blue Cross deputy centre manager.

“They will be keen to make up for lost time, but we have to introduce them to grazing slowly to avoid digestive problems.

“Hopefully by Christmas they will be able to stay in the field for short spells, and will start to meet the neighbouring ponies.”