The team at an Aberdeenshire horse welfare centre have helped four obese ponies lose weight to give them a fighting chance at a better future.
Months of recovery have paid off for four animals who came into the care of the Belwade Farm, which is a horse welfare centre near Aboyne.
The ponies came to the farm after the owner began struggling to care for them after her partner died.
Each of the animals were reported to be suffering from a number of health issues, including poorly maintained feet and parasites.
Obesity in horses is often overlooked but can cause an excruciatingly painful and potentially fatal illness called laminitis, as well as put excessive strain on their joints.
One pony weighed 610kg
One of the ponies, Bombay, weighted a massive 610kg and was required to lose the equivalent of two full-grown humans to be considered healthy.
Professionals at the centre set about assessing all of the ponies and then devised a weight-loss programme which consisted of low-calorie food and exercise.
The process had to be gentle enough that their already strained joints weren’t put under more stress.
After months of rehabilitation, ponies Max and Fontelroy have been rehomed.
Bombay has recently been rehomed as a companion, and Chancer, having returned to Belwade following his rehomer’s change in circumstances, is currently recovering from a small operation.
It is hoped that once he has made a full recovery, he will be available for rehoming once again.
‘Real challenge to lose weight’
Centre manager Eileen Gillen said: “In many ways, overweight horses are harder to deal with than underweight ones – it is a real challenge to help them lose weight and increase their mobility.
“Weight loss is crucial but must be done slowly and carefully, and it is likely that these ponies will need their diet managed carefully for the rest of their lives.
“Also, Bombay and Chancer, like so many of the ponies that come in, were not used to being handled, and hefty stallions will use their weight whenever they don’t want to co-operate.
“It’s a real testament to the teams here that these ponies came round so quickly and accepted handling and learned manners, making it easier for us to help them, but also ensuring that they have a future.”