Little Ted has proven to be big achiever.
Eighteen months ago, he was found so badly emaciated he had to be placed on an emergency drip.
Now, he is Britain’s Champion Rescue Horse of the Year, taking out the top award at the recent RSPCA and PRP Rescue Services Rescue Horse/Pony of the Year.
Little Ted, a bay Dartmoor gelding, first won the in-hand class, then went on to take the supreme prize.
Little Ted was removed from his owner in March 2010 after being found severely emaciated and collapsed.
He had to be placed on a drip at the scene and his condition was described by an RSPCA officer as the most distressing thing she had seen.
Little Ted’s former owner, a show judge and breeder, was banned from keeping horses in September 2011 after admitting causing the pony to suffer.
Little Ted made a remarkable recovery and is now owned by Sharon Harris who adopted him from the RSPCA in July along with Jessie, another Dartmoor pony who came second in the in-hand class.
Harris, who came from her home in Cheshire for the show, said: “We were thrilled when Little Ted won. He was so well-behaved. He had already been very well-handled while being cared for on behalf of the RSPCA and we’ve been able to give him and Jessie lots of attention as they’ve settled in with our other four native ponies.
“People’s perception of a rescue pony is often just a coloured cob, but the show proved that the RSPCA has a huge variety of horses and ponies which can all go on to lead successful careers in any equine discipline and which desperately need caring owners.”
The show attracted 25 entries for the in-hand class and another 18 for the ridden class.
Ten of the best ponies and horses in each class then went into the championship in the Peterborough Showground Arena.
Show judge Clare Frost, who judged the ridden class won by a chestnut cob mare named Sundae, said: “It was an honour to be asked to judge the show and one of the most heart-wrenching, but fulfilling experiences I have had as a judge.
“It was wonderful to see the animals coming into the ring, having seen the horrific pictures and read their histories, then seeing how beautiful and loved they now looked.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house on Saturday night and by far the best part was to see the trust which these horses and ponies had regained in humans,” she said.
Sundae, who was reserve overall, came from the notorious Spindles Farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. In this case a horse dealer was imprisoned and banned from keeping equines after being found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to 40 horses and ponies and failing to meet the needs of a further 114.
Sundae is now “school mistress” at the RSPCA’s Felledge Equine Centre in County Durham, where she is a permanent resident.
The rescue classes were part of Equifest, which attracted more than 10,000 entries for its showing, show jumping, dressage and carriage driving classes.
RSPCA national equine coordinator, chief inspector Cathy Hyde said: “The new rescue classes went so well and we will be doing it all again next year when we hope it will be even bigger.
“It was so well received, with people visibly moved to see these horses and ponies alongside a slideshow featuring photos showing them in the awful states that they were in before being rescued and adopted by fantastic new owners.
“I think it helped to introduce many new people to the RSPCA who might not have been aware of the work we do in rescuing and rehabilitating horses.”