Horse rescue: The story of Digby, the abandoned cob

Horse rescue: The story of Digby, the abandoned cob

Challenging economic times often lead to more horses being rehomed due to the expense involved with keeping them. Petplan Equine customer Claire Barton shares her experience of rescuing Digby, a coloured cob who was abandoned as a young foal, and giving him a fabulous new home for life.

Thought to be only a few months old, Digby was found abandoned and collapsed on a grass verge by rescue charity Kent Horse Rescue in the winter of 2017.

A rocky start for Digby

The colt was so weak he couldn’t even stand. An emergency vet was called, and Digby was hoisted onto the horse ambulance to transport him to the charity’s base.

'He was severely dehydrated and undernourished, and they didn’t think he’d pull through,' remembers Digby’s new owner, Claire Barton. 'They were shocked when he was still there in the morning.'

Rehabilitation and finding his new family

The charity worked around the clock to help bring Digby back to health, and eventually, he started to regain his strength. A year later and the now strapping piebald colt was ready to be rehomed.

‘My daughter Layla had a pony already and when my husband’s family bought a new yard with a huge paddock, we decided to get another one,’ says Claire. 'I looked online but there was nothing suitable. Then, a friend suggested we look at the rescue centres, especially with so many of them full to bursting with horses needing homes, so I went online and found Kent Horse Rescue. I read Digby’s story and fell in love with him there and then.'

The rehoming process

After messaging the charity, Claire received a phone call from them, and a brief chat led to a meeting in person.

'I was asked several questions about my circumstances, experience and plans for Digby, and the charity then came out to view the yard,' recalled Claire. 'Two weeks later, we finally got to meet him. He was the most gorgeous pony, with one blue eye and so much character despite everything he’d been through. That was it, there was no way we weren’t having him.'

Digby was delivered to Claire in April 2018, a totally different pony to the one that was rescued a year earlier.

'They had done a brilliant job rehabbing him,' said Claire. 'You could see all his ribs when he first arrived and now, he’s a big stocky lush of a boy. Alongside continuing with his health care plan and worming, teeth, feet and vaccinations, I also got him castrated.’

Digby now has a bright future in his forever home

'He is four now and 14.1hh, so the perfect height for Layla to move onto next,’ Claire continues. ‘We’re looking to back him next year and he’ll be her next pony.'

Looking at him now, it’s hard to imagine the tribulations he went through as a foal. In fact, the only reminder of Digby’s past is his eagerness to eat.

'He’s cheeky, but loving at the same time, and he snuggles in and just wants to be loved,' Claire reveals. 'His only slight downside is that he can be funny around food. If you walk in his field with a haynet over your shoulder, he’ll try and pull it off the back of you, so we have to put some on the floor for him to eat while we’re hanging his haynet up. At first, we tried to break the habit and make him wait for his food, but he just can’t because it’s in him that he doesn’t know when he’s next going to get fed. It’s the only reminder of his background and we’ve found a way to manage it.'

Despite being let down by humans as a foal, Digby clearly trusts his owners and is taking his training well, happily walking around the lanes, unfazed by most things.

'He has a home with us for life, he’s not going anywhere,' says Claire. 'The charity had never signed a pony over before – they’ve always owned them – but on my daughter’s birthday this year, they signed him over to us. We were over the moon. Even my husband dotes on him. 

'It’s very rewarding having a rescue horse. If I could have my time once over, I would do it again in a heartbeat.'

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