A five-year-old pony, who was rescued from an Essex common with a halter embedded in his head, has made a prize-winning showing debut.

Master Blaster, aka “Pongo”, stood British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA) in-hand reserve champion at Suffolk County show (8-9 June).

Sam Wilson, from Essex, took on the 13.3hh coloured pony from Redwings Horse Sanctuary for her 12-year-old daughter Rosie in April 2010.

“Rosie has a show hunter-type pony but she had always wanted a traditional. We’d been looking for a while when a friend told me about Pongo,” said Sam. “We went to see him and fell in love.”

Pongo was reported to the RSPCA in March 2009. He was tethered with a head collar that had cut into his poll area and the wound was full of maggots.

Nicola Markwell of Redwings said: “We knew he was special when he stood quietly for the vet to cut out the halter.”

They named him Pongo because his wound smelt so bad.

A court banned his owner from keeping horses for a year.

Rosie and Pongo have qualified for ridden and in-hand classes at Equifest (18-21 August) and are training with Katie Jerram.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (21 July, 2011)