Beloved Spencer and his rescuers had each done the hard yards, but sometimes even that cannot be enough.
British charity World Horse Welfare has announced the death of Spencer, a rescue horse who had pulled through after being seized in a pitiful state four years ago.
He needed intensive care to help him survive his first few days – and there were fears that help had not come soon enough.
But Spencer made a good recovery and went into the charity’s rehoming programme.
However, charity staff learned this week that Spencer had succumbed to a severe bout of colic.
The neglect suffered in Spencer’s early life left him with ongoing health issues and it was likely that the worm damage suffered when he was so young left him with a weakened gut, the charity said.
Whilst so many symptoms of neglect can be reversed, some of the damage is beyond repair or not always visible, it said.
“Every attempt was made to save Spencer’s life but, devastatingly, the damage was beyond repair and the right decision was taken to stop his suffering,” said Caroline Heard, the assistant manager at Belwade Farm, the charity’s centre in Scotland where Spencer spent most of his days.
Spencer showed great resilience in initially pulling through and his wonderful character quickly won the hearts of all of the staff at the charity.
During the first few months after his arrival he doubled his body weight and, despite being three years old, he grew another six inches at the wither.
“Spencer had the kindest nature and a winning sense of humour,” Heard said.
“Despite having had no previous handling, he unquestionably put his trust in us all here at the charity. Spencer was a delight to work with and had a strong following both through those that adopted him and visitors who met him at our farm.”
Spencer was rehomed last year to a family who adored him and he spent his time living happily side-by-side with two other rehomed ponies.
“We are so grateful to his rehomers for giving Spencer such a wonderful home and caring for him so well, right until the very end. Our thoughts are with them at this tragic time.
“It is heart-breaking that having survived his initial weak and vulnerable state that Spencer’s life has been so short.
“However, we can console ourselves; if Spencer had not been rescued by World Horse Welfare, he would never have enjoyed his four very happy years here at Belwade Farm and in his new home.”