From starving and nervous to the cheekiest of ponies, Prince Harry is winning hearts…
Harry was in a terrible state when he was rescued last year. Infested with lice, suffering from an infection and extremely underweight, the five-year-old pony was also incredibly nervous of people and afraid of being handled.
Horses are given a body scored to determine their condition and see if they are the correct weight. Harry was given a body score of 0.5 out of five – five times lower than an average healthy horse score of 2.5, putting him at a serious health risk. He was hospitalised for two weeks and put on a strict feeding programme to build up his weight slowly and safely.
By the time he arrived at our Blue Cross rehoming centre in Burford, Oxfordshire, he was looking and feeling better, but he still had a long road to recovery ahead.
Clare Davey, a Blue Cross Horse Care Groom, says: “Harry needed antibiotics to help clear up his infection and, once the vet gave us the go ahead, he could go out and graze in the field every day with a friend, which helped to increase his weight steadily.
“We also handled him daily to build his trust and prepare him for his future. His confidence improved really quickly and it wasn’t long before we could start training him to be a riding pony.”
Under the care of the Blue Cross Horse Team, Harry took everything in his stride, and within just a few months he had completely transformed from the nervous, skinny pony who first arrived at the centre back in July 2013.
He has now been rehomed on loan to a family and has devolved a particularly strong bond with their young daughter, Isobel, aged nine.
Isobel, who enjoys riding lessons with Harry each week, says: “He likes eating and is really cheeky.”
Isobel’s mum, Danielle Baron, agrees: “He’s quite a cheeky chap. He’s got a really nice character though.
“Because he was castrated late I think he’s a little cheekier than another pony might be, but his cheekiness makes him who he is.”
When Danielle’s horse sadly passed away last summer, she decided to take on a Blue Cross pony after hearing how many were in need of good homes.
It was a big decision to make as Isobel needed a gentle pony who was able to help her learn to ride and Harry had suffered a difficult past, but Danielle knows she made the right choice.
“Isobel and Harry are learning together,” she says. “Harry’s quite happy to do all sorts, from riding lessons to hacking, and he’s been as good as gold in all situations.”
Even Isobel’s little brother, William, who was once fearful of horses, has taken to Harry and enjoys riding him occasionally.
Harry is well and truly part of the family.