Rescued Pony Hugs The Man Who Saved His Life

"I just sat there for a few minutes holding him. He seemed to relax and almost fell asleep as if he knew he was safe."

No one can say for certain what life had been like for this little pony named Tobias, but the scars on his body and the sadness in his eyes suggested he'd never known the warmth of kindness or love — and he almost never got the chance to.

Thankfully, Tobias knows it now.

Natasha Ward Hance

Kirk Hance and his family recently moved onto a small farm to have more room for the animals they rescue to roam and play. With that extra space, they soon decided to welcome horses into their lives as well, and set out to find any that needed saving. That's when Kirk stumbled upon the sad reality of horse auction sites, where less desirable horses are often sent to slaughter.

"I honestly didn’t know that such places existed. I showed my wife the site and it really got to us," Kirk told The Dodo. "My wife spotted both a little paint mare and this little pony; both were being shipped at the end of the day if nobody could step up. We just jumped immediately and purchased them."

That's how little Tobias and his larger companion came into their lives.

Natasha Ward Hance
Natasha Ward Hance

Both animals bear signs of neglect, and were at first skittish around their new family members — but the pony was especially withdrawn. "He was sick and just kind of stared at the ground. I’m convinced he was severely depressed," Kirk said.

Out on their pasture, Tobias was hesitant to let anyone approach him. So, instead, Kirk just lingered by quietly, allowing the pony to become acquainted with him at his own pace. That was perhaps the first time anyone had shown compassion and understanding toward Tobias. And it seems that simple gesture was what he'd been searching so long for.

"I knew I needed to get down on his level and just show him I cared for him," Kirk said. "He came up to me, and what started as me just petting him softly and reassuring him it was OK, turned into a full embrace. I just sat there for a few minutes holding him. He seemed to relax and almost fell asleep as if he knew he was safe."

Here's video of that touching moment.

Kirk could sense what that embrace meant for Tobias — and it meant so much for him as well.

"He melted my heart," Kirk said. "I was taken aback at how people can be so mean to an animal that just wants to be loved."

It's been just a few days now for Tobias and his other companion in their new home, but they both are beginning to realize that their lives of pain and sadness are now behind them forever. And though they still have some more opening up to do, they're getting plenty of encouragement from a family who is eager to see them blossom.

Natasha Ward Hance
Natasha Ward Hance

"My five kids go out daily and love on them, along with me and my wife," Kirk said, looking back on the decision that inspired them to rescue these animals in the first place:

"The only thing we would have done differently is to have done it sooner. There are way too many innocent animals being discarded like trash."

Natasha Ward Hance