Rescue pony afraid of people overcomes fears and finds a loving family

[Cam before (left) and after his incredible transformation]

A neglected pony once terrified of people has made a remarkable turnaround thanks to Blue Cross – and has landed on his hooves with a new family who adore him.

Cam arrived at our rehoming centre in Burford, Oxfordshire, more than five years ago after being rescued by another animal welfare charity.

He was in an appalling state – filthy, emaciated, infested with lice and suffering from a nasty respiratory infection.

Aside from his health problems, Cam, thought then to be aged around one year, was also extremely nervous around people which made treating him a challenge.

Cam was terrified of humans when he first arrived at Blue Cross, but soon learnt he could trust us.

Overcoming fears

Little was known about his traumatic past, but it was clear that Cam had little or no experience of human contact before being rescued.

Gradually, though, we helped the dashing gelding overcome his fears and he was soon on the road to recovery, both mentally and physically.

Rehoming Assistant, Emily Lambert, said: “On arrival the first thing that needed to be done was to get a head collar on Cam so that future handling could be done more easily. 

“He was very nervous and became unsettled whenever someone entered the stable. 

“But after spending some time just stood quietly in the stable we managed to edge closer to him and then get a rope around his neck. Although this unsettled him, he soon calmed down and we managed to get a head collar on.”

This then enabled our team to get Cam used to regular handling and eventually start training sessions, in which he learnt to do all the things a normal domesticated horse would, such as being groomed, have his feet picked out, leading with a rope and being tied up. 

“To start with he would become unsettled when something new was being done but his handler just quietly reassured him and persevered until he settled and accepted what was being asked of him,” said Emily.  “He would then be rewarded with a scratch in his favourite ‘itchy’ spots or with a small treat such as some nuts or a carrot!”

And Cam’s trust for his groom, Clare Davey, was given the ultimate test when he was loaded into a trailer for the first time to prepare him for future travel. Incredibly, he didn’t bat an eyelid.

Clare said: “During Cam’s time at the centre I built up a strong bond with him and I felt as though he would do anything for me. One of my proudest moments was when he followed me straight into that trailer, no questions asked."

One of my proudest moments was when he followed me straight into the trailer, no questions asked.” Cam's groom, Clare

Incredible transformation

His remarkable transformation, within such a short space of time, surprised everyone.

“He went from being a wild welfare case, to being a normal youngster,” said Emily. “This was partly due to all the training he has received but also due to the fact that Cam is naturally inquisitive and bold and has a willingness to please his handler.”

After several months Cam went out to a home on loan as a companion horse to continue with his education and returned to Blue Cross a few years later when he was four and ready to start learning how to be a riding pony.

Emily said: “He came on really quickly and was very willing to learn. His groom continued to work him and taught him to work both in the school and out hacking and even introduced him to jumping.”

New beginnings

Cam with April's daughter Amber.

Then, in December 2015, Cam went to a new home as a riding pony with owner April Griffiths who soon hopes to be able to take him to competitions.

“We can’t thank Blue Cross enough for letting us give him a forever home. From the first moment we all saw him, it was true love. When we were filling out the application form, never in a million years did we think we would get to take him home. Even after we went to centre to ride him for first time it seemed too good to be true.”

Since arriving home with April and her two daughters Ella and Amber, Cam has continued to grow into a strong, confident pony, helped along the way by his surrogate mum Tess, from whom he is inseparable.

“There are three other ponies at our yard who Cam loves to get up to mischief with – they are nicknamed the rug wreckers as they chase and play with each other, pulling at each other’s rugs. Tess just gets in the middle of them and herds Cam away, it’s so funny to see!”

Intelligent Cam is continuing his riding training, honing his jumping skills and is even having dressage lessons in which he is showing real promise having quickly – and gracefully – mastered many of the moves.

“It's hard to believe he had such a bad start when you see him now,” said April.

Thriving

“Cam is so willing to learn. He loves to lead out on his hacks, and on Christmas Day when he was all dressed up in his tinsel he looked so proud. He enjoys being ridden, and is always ready to please. Cam is a creature of habit and he thrives off routine.”

Such is the trust and devotion that Cam has for April, he doesn’t even need to be led into his stable with a head collar and simply follows her on command.

But, as a youngster, he still has his cheeky moments.

“Sometimes he can be like a stroppy teenager and gets jealous if I fuss Tess before him – scrapping the floor with his hoof, with his 'butter wouldn't melt' expression. As soon as I open the gate to his field he comes bucking and bronking over as fast as he can.”

Cam galloping about in his field with best friend and surrogate mum, Tess.

April said she now can’t wait for the summer months to take Cam to the beach as he loves splashing about in the water.

This lucky pony is clearly smitten with his new family, as they are with him.

“Thanks to Blue Cross and all their hard work we have another member of our family, like we have in Tess. I would rather sell my home and live in field with them both than be without them because no matter what else is going on in life, they always make me smile,” added April.

“Words can’t even scratch the surface of how Cam has touched our lives with his incredible character. He has been a true gift to our family.”

Find out about the many other ponies and horses at Blue Cross looking for new homes here.

— Page last updated 9/03/2017