While a woman was out walking her dogs through the woods in Leeds, England, she spotted a skinny, mud-covered pony lying on the pathway. There was a man standing above the pony, trying to lift him up, but the pony wouldn’t budge.
“He had been laying there alone for some time because there were marks on the ground where he’d been flailing around in an effort to rise,” Kim Pengelly, a fundraising and PR coordinator for Hope Pastures, the rescue group that stepped in to save the pony said.
“His right-hand side was heavily caked in mud, and his face and eyelid were sore and scraped through to raw skin, where he’d harmed himself while struggling.”
The woman flagged down people and together, and a group of people worked together to lift the pony up. They succeeded to stand him up, but he was so weak, he pony collapsed again.
When they saw a couple of people riding horses, they asked them for help, and the presence of these horses seemed to lift the pony’s spirits. When he was lifted again, he remained standing.
The pony, later named Tino (short for Valentino), was in terrible physical shape. He was shivering, dehydrated and underweight, and he had an upper respiratory infection. They were unsure if he’d survive.
“The eyelids were very swollen and had a really bad infection,” Pengelly said. “His eyelashes were ingrowing due to the swelling and each blink was causing Tino pain and further damage to the eye surface. Both eyes were clouded and looked completely white, very much like a zombie. It was obvious that he was unable to see much going on around him.”
To Pengelly, the saddest thing about Tino was his “pure helplessness.”
“He was unable to see anything, so unable to find food for himself,” Pengelly said. “He must have felt very vulnerable and alone. Horses are herd animals who depend on having other horses around them in order to survive and fulfill their emotional needs. They also rely heavily on their eyesight to detect danger and feel able to escape it. Tino had both of these things denied him due to his neglected state, which must have been worsening for months without veterinary treatment.”
The woman who found him called Hope Pastures and volunteers from the organization hurried over to help. The RSPCA and local police came to assist as well.
“Tino was most certainly a sad and lost pony,” Pengelly said. “He seemed to have ‘given up,’ and at first we were actually unsure whether we were being too optimistic [by thinking we could save him]. Our welfare coordinator talked with the RSPCA inspector and police who were present at the scene, and it was decided on welfare grounds that Tino was going to benefit most by traveling to Hope Pastures as we are only a 25-minute drive away from where he was.”
Pengelly believes he was abandoned by his owner.
“We know that Tino had been seen tied to a fence in that area, and [was] again seen wandering loose and close to the nearby motorway,” Pengelly said. “We were informed of this after his rescue. Apart from that, we have no history of him.”
No matter what happened to Tino in the past, no one would abandon him now. In order to get Tino to the safety of the sanctuary, they needed to load him onto a truck, which was not easy since the sickly pony was skittish and jumped at any sound or touch.
“Tino was encouraged step by step,” Pengelly said. “He was very unsure, but so hungry that every step he made, he got a tasty handful of feed. He soon realized what was needed of him. Once he got far enough into the lorry, he began to eat the straw base that we put in there. He was ravenous.”
The rescue team called an emergency vet, who met them at the Hope Pastures sanctuary.
“The vet was shocked and concerned at Tino’s condition,” Pengelly said. “The main concern was his eyes and the weakness he was suffering due to muscle loss. Tino had very little body fat left his body, and he’d been eating at his muscles to get energy.”
The vet treated Tino as best as he could and his efforts paid off. Tino was able to make it through the night, and he ate and drank whatever was offered to him.
The volunteers at the sanctuary showered Tino with love.
“He seems easygoing and tolerant, once he trusts you,” Pengelly said. “If he doesn’t like you grooming certain spots, he will turn around and give you a look which says, ‘You are annoying me and I am allowing it, but don’t push your luck!’”
Tino is eager to welcome any affection he gets.
“He moves into your space when he needs love and attention, then quite happily goes back to eating, until he gets the urge for comfort again,” Pengelly said. “The sweetest thing about Tino is how he leans his head into us for a head massage, which he clearly appreciates and makes him feel loved.”
Tino will remain at Hope Pastures while he recuperates.
“He definitely does know he is rescued and safe,” Pengelly said. “He has shown us that by his ability to trust in such a short space of time, and by the way he looks so relaxed and comfortable in his stable, taking his time to heal in a safe space. He looks like he has landed in pony heaven.”
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