Starved and neglected rescue pony becomes a sporting champion
- Credit: Denise Bradley
A pony rescued from a life of neglect and starvation has blossomed into a sporting award-winner - driven by a teacher determined to prove that "no-one is a write-off".
When Ted was taken into the care of the World Horse Welfare (WHW) charity in early 2018, no-one predicted that the terrified, near-starving nine-year-old would ever trot down the equestrian red carpet.
But three years later he has won the "rescue horse or pony" category at the national Carriage Driving Awards - an achievement proudly celebrated by his new East Anglian owner.
Liz Harcombe, who lives near Brandon, has competed in carriage driving competitions for most of her life, inspired by her time working at Windsor as a groom for the Duke of Edinburgh, who pioneered the sport.
She is also a teacher at Lakenheath Community Primary School and said Ted's rehabilitation offered a crucial life lesson to pupils to believe in themselves and never give up.
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"It is incredibly fulfilling to turn a pony that may have been considered a 'write-off' into something more than a bit special," she said.
"As a school teacher, I am always saying to the children that no-one is a write-off. If you end up in the right circumstance with the right people, you can do anything. You must push your talents."
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The 52-year-old said it was a challenge to retrain Ted when he joined her in October 2019 after being brought back to health by World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Lancashire.
But along with her team-mates Amy Last and Bernie Neal, they were able to overcome his emotional issues and build up the skills and stamina needed to compete in a tandem driving team with Yogi - another former WHW rescue pony who has since won national titles.
"When Ted was rescued he had been part of a starvation case, so he was very poorly treated and never had an education," she said.
"He was very aggressive and had all sorts of issues. But he was beautifully-bred, unusually for a rescue pony.
"The team at Penny Farm did an amazing job getting him fit and healthy, and introducing him to driving.
"By doing that they have given him a real future, Ted – and Yogi – just go to prove, once again, that rescue horses and ponies really can turn their hooves to anything."