A pony “hours from death” has been given a new chance in life.
The three-year-old colt, since named Valentino (Tino), was found abandoned in Leeds on 11 February.
A member of the public discovered the coloured youngster collapsed on the side of a footpath and contacted Hope Pastures rescue centre.
Charity workers attended the site alongside RSPCA officers and police.
“After receiving the call from the kind person who was struggling to help him to his hooves, we knew that we needed to attend urgently with our lorry, blankets, feed and water,” said Hope Pastures trustee Kim Pengelly.
“Our hearts broke at the sight we were met with, a young male pony who was extremely underweight and weak and with eyes so badly ulcerated and infected that he was virtually blind.”
The group decided it was in Tino’s interests to be taken into the care of Hope Pastures.
Firefighters had to cut through a locked gate so the charity could drive its lorry as close as possible.
“He was still very wobbly so asking him to walk any distance wasn’t going to be possible,” said Ms Pengelly.
“With some difficulty due to him having limited sight, being weak and unused to being handled, we loaded him into our lorry using positive reinforcement to keep his stress levels to a minimum.”
Once at Hope Pastures Tino was checked by a vet.
“We were very concerned at the severe infection which was showing in his eyes and his nasal discharge,” said Ms Pengelly.
“He was also very sensitive around his head and clearly in pain, suffering scrapes and bruises on his right side from struggling to get up from the ground for so long.
“To our relief his temperature, heart and lungs were normal, and our vet managed to clean his eyes as best they could and apply some dye to check for ulcers.”
Some small ulcers and chronic infection were identified and Tino was put on a course of antibiotics, painkillers and eye drops.
After a brief stay at the sanctuary to recuperate his strength, he was taken to Rainbow Equine Hospital for further treatment.
“He’s come on leaps and bounds,” Ms Pengelly told H&H.
“He had a massive worm burden which we were really worried about, but he’s come out the other side and is doing well.
“His right eye had to be removed but his other eye is fine.
“Initially he was very tentative but he’s really come on and is very friendly. It’s clear he’s a little fighter.”
Ms Pengelly thanked all those who had shared their support for Tino through donations and comments and shares on social media.
Charities are calling for an end to the ‘suffering’ caused by the festival
The film looks back at the horrors faced by rescuers, to how they went about rehabilitating the equines and finally
She hopes Tino will eventually be able to be rehomed to a loving family once he has fully recovered.
“If he had been left for a few more hours there is no doubt that he would have perished, cold alone and in pain,” added Ms Pengelly.
“His lucky stars were watching over him when he was discovered by one of our supporters, just in time for help to be called.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday