Young pony James will take his place at a Bristol’s charity’s visitor centre at Easter weekend, adding another chapter to a remarkable tale of survival.
James was raised by a combination of bottle-feeding and a surrogate mother, having been found abandoned and left to die in a field when just three days old.
Now, he is going to give something back, becoming a proud ambassador for the charity HorseWorld.
Visitors to its Whitchurch visitor centre will be able to watch James frolicking in his field this Easter holiday. He will also be taking part in some of the presentations to the public, in which grooms will be using James to demonstrate some of the horse-training techniques used by the charity.
James was found lying abandoned and alone in a field in Swansea at just three days old in 2009.
He had been left to die but, luckily for James, a passerby found him and took him to a local small-animal vet practice.
Staff bottle-fed James and began his care while they desperately sought his owners.
However, no owner could be traced.
Veterinary nurses were advised he was to be euthanised but, distraught by the idea, made a call to HorseWorld to see if the charity could help.
Equine husbandry manager Joanne Vaughan immediately collected him.
“On arrival at HorseWorld, James was in dire need of a plasma transfusion and treatment for an infected knee joint,” she says.
“He hadn’t received colostrum from his mother that would have helped to protect him from infection and disease.
“HorseWorld drew in the veterinary expertise needed to attend James. They worked to flush his joints during a long night. Around the clock bottle-feeding and administration of medications followed.”
Feeding was also going to be an issue and Joanne knew that the bottle-feeding had to stop.
“It is much better for a horse to be raised by its own kind as there are severe behavioural problems that can arise from hand-rearing.
“A foster mum was urgently needed to feed James naturally. With the help of the national Foaling Bank, that same weekend HorseWorld was able to find a very experienced lady who owned a mare named Cassie that had sadly lost her foal the day before. Her foal had been born with a cleft palate and would never have been able to feed as tragically the milk was being taken into its lungs.”
Cassie was the ideal surrogate mum to James, Vaughan said.
“Even their breed and size matched.”
The introduction of Cassie and James went as well as it possibly could; James dived in for some milk and has never looked back.
He stayed at the surrogate mother’s yard for seven months and then returned to HorseWorld for weaning and gelding.
James is one of the lucky ones and he now has the freedom to run around the fields at HorseWorld whilst his herd continues his socialisation.
Now rising three, James is a very friendly and well put together little pony, and Vaughan hopes he will make a fantastic child’s riding pony once old enough.
Meanwhile he is set to take the next step in his young career in his stride as he becomes HorseWorld’s newest visitor attraction this Easter.
Horseworld presentations, some of which will involve James, will take place at the visitor centre from March 31 to April 15, at 11am and 2pm.