An emaciated foal abandoned in a field with no grazing was hours from death when she was found collapsed in a muddy gateway.
The RSPCA is appealing for information on the people responsible for dumping the eight-month-old piebald – now named Pancake – and black six-month-old Poppet.
The charity was alerted to the presence of the fillies, in a field in Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, by an anonymous caller on 3 March.
“When I arrived, the little black pony was still on her feet but the piebald was collapsed in the wet mud,” RSPCA inspector Richard Lythgoe said.
“She was so weak she couldn’t get up or support her own weight. They were both severely underweight, there was no grazing; they had just been left to starve to death.”
The fillies were taken to Cambridge Equine Hospital, where Pancake was found to be close to death.
Vet Vikki Scott said: “She was emaciated, extremely weak and unable to stand or support her own weight.
“She was dehydrated and anaemic with very low blood protein due to heavy intestinal parasitism. Her whole body was affected by this illness, and her heart was unable to beat in a normal regular rhythm.
“It was touch and go but with intensive care, regular turning and lifting, careful deworming and feeding, Pancake has grown in strength and made great progress. She still has a way to go and requires more treatment for pressure sores but we’re now feeling really positive about her future.”
Poppet was also anaemic and in poor condition due to parasites.
“Poppet has grown in strength and is beginning to come out of her shell and show off her true, cheeky personality,” Ms Scott said. “She wants to be a racehorse when she grows up!
“These fillies came to us with all the problems that arise from months of inadequate food provision. In such cases when there are no fat stores to rely on, the body starts to break down protein for energy.
“For Pancake, this led to such severe muscle loss, she was unable to support her skeletal frame in standing. As a result she was also suffering from acute dehydration. Given her overall condition, she would have likely died in the field within 24 to 48 hours.”
The RSPCA is calling for anyone with any information on the foals’ abandonment to get in touch.
“They in a terrible state and had clearly been suffering for some time,” Mr Lythgoe said. “We believe Pancake had been collapsed for around 48 hours.
“They were dumped in this field – without the landowner’s permission – and left to die.
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“Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. Thankfully, on this occasion, we were able to rescue these horses and get them the rehabilitation they needed.”
The ponies have already “won the hearts” of staff at the equine hospital and have homes to go to once they have recovered.