Benny, who nine months ago was an emaciated horse too weak to stand, has become a poster boy for National Help a Horse Day in the United States.
Benny weighed just 562 pounds when he arrived in the care of Last Stop Horse Rescue in Prentiss, Maine, last August.
The four-year-old gelding showed clear signs of abuse and neglect, and was so weak that he could not stand.
Today, nine months later, he is in robust health and has been hailed as an example of what can be achieved, as the American SPCA (ASPCA) marks National Help a Horse Day.
Last Stop Horse Rescue, which gets an ASPCA grant enabling the delivery of 20 round bales of hay every three weeks to feed the rescued horses, gave Benny the care he so desperately needed.
Staff spent several days trying to keep Benny standing but, ultimately, the best option was to place him in a sling hanging from a beam in the barn.
At the recommendation of veterinarian Ron Miles, Benny was introduced to food slowly and in small amounts. He was getting tiny meals every hour, even throughout the night.
Slowly but surely he gained strength.
He spent 12 days in the sling, showing a gradual improvement and a brighter demeanor every day.
Benny stood for the first time on August 15. It was a joyous day for all involved.
Now, nearly nine months after his arrival at the rescue centre, Benny weighs 930 pounds and uses his new-found strength to gallop around the pasture with his fellow horses.
Despite years of abuse and neglect, co-founder Joyce Pomeroy says: “Benny is our miracle boy. Food and love was all he needed.”
The ASPCA says stories such as Benny’s inspired it to create National Help a Horse Day.
“All too often, these amazing animals are mistreated, neglected, or even sent to slaughter,” the charity said. “Benny is proof that every horse is worth helping.”
The ASPCA says horses have been central to its work since it was founded 148 years ago, when Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26, 1866.
Today, the ASPCA continues to assist domesticated and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, rescue and targeted grants.