The transformation of a pony found emaciated and with urine burns inspired the public to vote her as the top equine rescue story in a national poll.
Coloured cob Bessie won 64% of the Facebook vote, more than double any other nominees.
Bessie and companion Bobby were brought to the attention of charity Hope Pastures, near Leeds, by a supporter.
Bobby, who arrived at the sanctuary first, was “shockingly thin, full of worms and lice, with a matted coat and was very depressed,” according to a Hope Pastures spokesman.
The sanctuary had no transport at the time so Bessie arrived the following day in a van.
“There was Bessie, squeezed in by the back seats and tins of paint and rubbish – just another piece of cargo,” said the spokesman.
“Bobby’s face lit up when he saw Bessie and the team realised that they were closely bonded after suffering so much together.”
Bessie (pictured, above) was also lice-ridden and suffering with worms, but her condition was worse than that of her companion.
“She was so severely malnourished that our yard team could see and feel every bone, and her upper legs and tummy were hot, bald and raw with urine burns,” said the spokesman.
“She was withdrawn, anaemic and incredibly hungry and thirsty. On thorough examination, both ponies were also found to have infections in all four hooves. The rehabilitation task began – both physical, which takes months when an animal is in the state Bessie was, and mental, which is often the most difficult for abused animals.”
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The ponies stayed at Hope Pastures for six months, then were fostered by one of the sanctuary’s vets for another six months.
Now the four-year-olds have a new home, where they are being long-reined and backed and are “part of the family”.
The spokesman added: “They recently travelled to the NEC Birmingham to attend the British Equestrian Trade Association international trade show, where they were impeccably behaved, despite never having been in a situation such as this before.
“Bobby and Bessie are fantastic rescue examples, showing how even animals that have been so badly neglected and abused can learn to trust humans again and have a full and enriched life.”