Sweep the pony has won praise for being an ideal companion to help in the recovery of an orphaned foal, whose mother was euthanised two weeks after arriving into the care of World Horse Welfare.
The British-based charity has given credit to Sweep for providing the foal, Silky, with the companionship she so desperately needed after the death of her mum.
Silky arrived at the charity’s Belwade Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, in January 2011 with her dam, Rona.
Both were exceptionally underweight, riddled with worms and covered in lice and rain scald.
To give both Rona and Silky a chance of survival, Silky was gradually weaned from her mum and slowly introduced to Sweep to keep her company.
Unfortunately, after battling for two weeks, Rona lost the ability to get up, even with the help of staff.
She was therefore euthanised. A necropsy found she was so infested with worms that the gut was badly damaged, meaning she was unable to absorb the necessary nutrients and was consequently starving to death.
Silky, however, responded well to treatment and made firm friends with Sweep.
In the space of less than six months, Silky more than doubled in size and quickly grew in confidence.
In January this year, she was successfully rehomed to a family in Aberdeenshire.
Caroline Heard, assistant manager at Belwade Farm, said the transformation during Silky’s recovery was tremendous.
“When she was ready to be rehomed, Silky was unrecognisable from the poor foal which arrived in our care at the beginning of last year.
“Her character completely changed, as initially she was very scared of humans, but Sweep helped her to become a lot more sociable towards us.
“Sweep and Silky adored each other. They would groom one another and spent all of their time together in the field.
“Sweep allowed her to relax and therefore eat without worrying. This was extremely important as Silky was very underweight and we didn’t want her to be put off her food because she was unhappy.”
Sweep had previously been called into action to help another rescue horse called Polly in 2010.
Polly arrived at Belwade Farm riddled with worms which had caused colic, and she had a nasty injury to one of her hind legs in a barbed-wire incident.
Sweep befriended Polly and became an important ally as she restored Polly’s confidence and helped to give her the will to live while she was receiving vital veterinary treatment.
During its Rehome a Horse month in March, World Horse Welfare is urging people to consider rehoming one of its horses in order to free up space in its centres so it can continue to help more neglected and abused horses such as Polly and Silky.
Check out World Horse Welfare’s rehoming page.