‘Survivor’ award for pony found with horrific third-degree burns who went on to be a champion

A pony was sustained third degree burns so severe she could barely walk has been honoured with a prestigious award in recognition of her strength and will to live.

Elsa was found abandoned on a remote lane in Tyne & Wear in January 2016, with infected, bleeding wounds on her upper hind legs.

She was rushed to a vet, who gave her emergency treatment and pain relief, before she was transferred to RSPCA Felledge Equine Centre in County Durham, where she received round-the-clock care. The vet predicted her wounds were at least three days old by the time she was found.

Click here to view the wound when she was rescued and here to see it two weeks into recovery (Warning: very graphic images).

As her wounds started to heal, the skin became tight and sore. X-rays also revealed she had laminitis.

After several months in a foster home, Elsa returned to Felledge and has started her introduction to ridden work.

The pony, named after the Disney princess from Frozen due to the freezing conditions in which she was found, was awarded an RSPCA Survivor Animal honour at a ceremony in London on 26 June.

“Elsa was the clear winner for the judges — what an amazing story she has,” said judge and RSCPA chief executive Chris Sherwood.

“What this plucky pony has gone through in her short life already is just unbelievable, but her strength and ability to bounce back and beat the odds is utterly inspiring.

“Despite a long road to recovery, today Elsa is unrecognisable. She is even being ridden — something our staff could never have imagined was possible when they first found her standing alone, in excruciating pain on the side of the road — she is the ultimate survivor.”

Elsa RSPCA awards

He added the fact somebody could treat the pony in such an appalling way is “unthinkable” and the judging panel struggled to read the details of her story.

“I wouldn’t have blamed Elsa if she never wanted to be touched by humans again,” he said.

“However, Elsa shows us just how amazing and forgiving animals are, and her story is a perfect example of how, with love and care, animals really are capable of anything, and also just how much they need us to show them kindness.”

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Lisa Paulin, manager at RSPCA Felledge Equine Centre who looked after Elsa since her rescue, paid tribute to all those involved in saving and rehabilitating the pony.

“Now fit and well, Elsa has been enjoying her ridden work at the centre,” she said of the Equifest 2016 rescue pony of the year.

“She is ready to move on to the next chapter in her life finding her for ever home, where someone can offer her that love and security she very much deserves.”

The awards, held at 195 Piccadilly, were attended by celebrities including John Bishop, Miranda Richardson, Deborah Meaden, Peter Egan, Kate Lawler, Matt Johnson and Pete Wicks. A total of 13 honours were given to those who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare and animals who have made notable achievements.

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