Tiny and terrified, Gary was just a helpless young foal when he was found crammed into the back of a car.
Thankfully, police pulled over the vehicle – also filled with a group of youths – and made sure the Shetland pony was rescued before he could endure any more mistreatment.
He soon found himself safely in the care of Blue Cross, but the trauma of the incident, combined with the likely neglect he had also experienced in his short little life, had sadly taken its toll.
Not only was Gary thin and in terrible condition, he was merely a shell of what a happy, inquisitive foal should be and, quite understandably, was petrified of people.
Shutdown and preferring to be alone, he just stood sad and forlorn in his stable for days after his arrival at our Burford centre in Oxfordshire.
Emily Lambert, Rehoming Coordinator, was one of those involved in Gary’s care. She said: “He was terrified; he would do anything to get away from you or would sometimes just stand there and close his eyes and put his head to the floor as if he was thinking: ‘ If I can’t see you then you can’t see me’.”
“We had to spend a very long time just sitting in the stable with him, trying to get him used to us being in the same space as he was in. If he looked at us we would reward him with a treat. It took about three weeks before we were able to start approaching him with touch,” explained Emily.
From then on, the Burford horse team worked on getting him used to the many things any well-kept pony would have experienced – from wearing a head collar and grooming, to visits from the vet and farrier.
Emily said: “He was very quiet and it took a while for him to give us anything back, really. But we always knew he would come round eventually, and towards the end of his time with us he had started playing with the other horses and would start whinnying when we approached.”
Once Gary was ready, we started the search to find him a home where he would get the love he deserved.
He had quite specific needs; due to his age and his newfound love of play, he needed a pony companion of a similar size and age, along with a patient owner who could continue to help him overcome his fears.
Luckily, Louise Coulson was scanning the Blue Cross website at just the right time in her search for a friend for her miniature pony Zebby, who had lost his own companion, Dolly, a few months before.