Unwanted Ponies Were Too Sad To Lift Their Heads — Until They Met Each Other
"They bumped into each other — literally — and that was it. It was truly love at first sight."
When a brown pony was discovered tethered to a tree in Spain last October, it was obvious from the bad shape he was in that it had been a long time since anyone had cared about him.
The pony wouldn't lift his head, even when people from EHCRC arrived to save him. His rescuers discovered that the abandoned pony was old — about 20 years old — and probably in pain. He walked with a limp because two of his vertebrae were fractured from being beaten by his owners. One of his eyes was also very damaged, and so he was partially blind. And some neurological problems made him a little extra wobbly when he walked.
Rescuers led the pony out of the bush and back to the rescue center. They named him Fudge, after the deep, chocolatey color of his coat. Little did Fudge know just how much his life would change after that day.
Since that day, Fudge has started to learn the pleasures of life — not only does he have shelter and plenty of food, he also has felt what it's like to be around people who care about him. And so it's safe to assume that the last few months have been among the best in the old pony's whole life.
But Fudge's life was about to get even better.
Earlier this year, in May, another pony came to EHCRC for urgent help.
A 15-year-old pony who came to be named Annie had hooves so long she could barely stand up. She had been used for breeding and then shut away in a filthy barn for years after she got too old to reproduce. Rescuers called her condition "shocking."
"There are no words to describe her horrendous general condition," EHCRC wrote at the time.
As with Fudge — and many of the other neglected horses, ponies and donkeys saved by EHCRC — a past rife with pain and neglect was evident in the way Annie carried herself. She, too, would hang her head, even when approached by people who wanted to give her the care and attention she always deserved.
Since her rescue, Annie has had her hooves trimmed (though she'll always have skeletal damage because of her neglect) and she has been treated for her infections. And over the past few months, her rescuers have learned what a spunky and strong pony Annie is.
"She was close to death and very, very weak," Sue Weeding, cofounder of EHCRC, told The Dodo. "Now she’s gained loads of weight and she’s become a very active naughty little pony." (She even breaks out of her stable, specially designed with extra padding for her joint pain, to steal food!)
Then one day this month, Annie and Fudge happened to cross paths — and Weeding immediately realized something special was happening.
"They bumped into each other — literally — and that was it," Weeding said. "It was truly love at first sight."
Weeding managed to catch the moment on camera as Fudge and Annie started grooming each other. "They were all over each other," she said. "For the first few days [after they met], we put them back to their separate stables."
But Annie is "a very strong-minded little pony," Weeding said. "After the third night, she’d broken out of her little barrier and gone over by Fudge’s stable ... And Fudge [had been] distressed because he just wanted to be with her. It was obvious that these guys had to be together day and night."
So the humans running the rescue center had no choice but to make arrangements for this newfound pony love. "Now they have their own big stable that they share together," Weeding said.
Now the couple spends their days exploring the field. "Fudge now follows Annie and she sees for him," Weeding said. "Fudge now goes many more places because he has her." Then, at night, the couple retires to their shared quarters.
"It’s so lovely that two disabled ponies that nobody cared about now have each other for the rest of their lives," Weeding observed. "We all need someone, don’t we?"