Grossly Overweight Pony is Transformed after Losing 14 Stone


Pony found abandoned and suffering laminitis described as ‘one of fattest horses ever seen’ by vet

grossly overweight pony

A pony rescued after being abandoned and left to gorge himself on open grass land in Buckinghamshire has undergone an amazing transformation after losing nearly 14 stone in weight.

When World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Chris Shaw, discovered the five year old Fell pony Dave (stable name Thunder), in April 2017 he was grossly overweight and suffering from laminitis, an extremely painful condition affecting the hooves. Dave was brought into the care of World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerset where he was immediately assessed by the vet who described him as ‘the most overweight pony she had ever seen‘

A concerned local called World Horse Welfare’s welfare line as they were worried about the pony so Chris went to investigate. He said:

“When I saw Dave I realised straightaway he was severely overweight and seemed to be having difficulty walking - clearly in a lot of pain. It turned out his owner had abandoned him in one paddock but over time the fences had come down turning that smaller paddock into a very large paddock with a lot of grass. Left to fend for himself, Dave had just been gorging on this almost never ending supply of food. 

“Given his condition and the amount of pain he was clearly suffering, the decision was made to remove him as soon as possible. No owner could be located so working with the RSPCA, he was taken into World Horse Welfare’s care.  After the vet had administered some pain relief Dave was loaded up with a very thick straw bed to ensure he was as comfortable as possible for the journey to Glenda Spooner Farm.”

Dave overweight

- Dave when he was found April 2017

Upon arrival he was assessed by vet, Anna Langford. She said:

“The crest on the top of his neck was around a hand’s width bigger than normal and was so extreme that we could hardly put a head collar on him because the headpiece had nowhere to sit behind his ears due to the excess fat being stored there.

“One of biggest problems we have in this country is the two extremes - some horses who come into World Horse Welfare’s care are emaciated whilst at the other end of the scale you have horses like Dave who are extremely overweight. The overweight ones can be much harder to manage and it’s taken a year of very hard work to bring Dave back to a more healthy weight.”

Thanks to a carefully managed diet and weight loss programme to help him safely shift the huge amount of excess weight he was carrying, Dave is now transformed after losing almost 90 kilograms, more than 14 stone. Exercise and physiotherapy are playing a vital role in his rehabilitation both as part of building his fitness and to help him develop his strength. He now looks like a completely different pony and whilst his laminitis is under control, his weight will always need to be very carefully managed. 

dave now

- Dave in February 2018

Chris Shaw continued:

“Being overweight has a number of health risks for horses. It puts a lot of extra pressure on their joints and muscles and can lead to them developing the extremely painful and debilitating condition, laminitis. Dave’s situation and the pain he went through was completely avoidable and should never have happened. There is plenty of help and advice out there to support owners in managing their horse’s weight and we would urge anyone concerned that their horse is becoming overweight to call our advice line on 01953 497238 or visit:

“Thankfully we were able to help Dave, stop him suffering and give him the care he needed. Seeing success stories like Dave is the absolute best part of my job.”


Once he has completed his rehabilitation, Dave will be ready to find a new home through World Horse Welfare’s Rehoming Scheme

dave exercising