I said no, that he wasn't what we were looking for and went home.
I didn't sleep well that night. Images of the pony kept popping into my brain. Finally I must have dropped off because I woke at 5am with a start, the pony large before my eyes.
I woke M up. "It's no good," I told him, "I've got to go and get that pony. He won't let me be."
I dropped L off at school picked up the trailer and went straight round. I gave her £50 because she'd been his first guardian angel and had horses of her own to feed and care for. He came home with me.
He was in a pretty bad way; thin and depressed with dull eyes and dry flaky skin all the way up his neck beneath his mane, his hooves needed attention and he had an infected tooth protruding out of his mouth which made eating and drinking very hard for him. Whenever he tried to drink most of the water would spill straight out of his mouth again, so I suspected he was probably also dehydrated.
My vet came out the following day and took the tooth out, the farrier came the next and sorted his feet, and we wormed him- I've never seen so many worms come out of a horse before.
|Checking droppings for worms|
|In this photo you can see how round his tummy is- this isn't health, it's caused by worm infestation which can cause permanent damage to the gut|
|Hi expression in this photo shows how shell-shocked his experiences had left him. His eyes were lifeless when he first arrived and he moved as if going through the motions with no real engagement at all. You can also see how think his neck was|
It is quite amazing how quickly ponies put on condition if they are properly cared for. Coco was having two small feeds a day containing a pro-biotic to help his digestion and in no time began to leave his unhappy life behind him and slowly started to look healthier. We took him out for walks in the forest to help put some muscles back on and remind him there is a whole lovely world out there.
We also had the horsey chiropractor check him over. Not surprisingly his joints and muscles were not in very good shape, but he was moving more comfortably after the session.
A week later and he was already looking better, his eyes were brighter and his character was starting to show through:
|Still with a very skinny neck but the shine is starting to come back to his coat|
|With a reduced worm burden and decent feed his stomach has begun to go down|
A month later and you really wouldn't recognise him as the same pony. We began long-reining him and taking him out for gentle rides in the forest, both of which he loved. He tried so hard to get things right, always listening and doing his best.
His mouth healed up well but we started him off in a bitless bridle just in case.
|Enjoying time in the paddock|
And then, in August, four months after rescuing him, he went to his first show- a huge achievement, one that made all of us very very proud of him.
|Here he is on the left as you look at the photo|
Now he lives with my mother and her mare in the New Forest, goes out for a ride in the forest a couple of times a week, is snug inside a warm rug during the winter with proper feed and haylage, and in the summer dozes contentedly in his field beneath the dappled shade of a large old oak tree, a happy pony once more.