Pint-sized mascot of Blackpool horse rescue dies

Penny Farm Horse Rehabilitation Centre. Pictured is Joanne Fulham with Dale.
Penny Farm Horse Rehabilitation Centre. Pictured is Joanne Fulham with Dale.
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The pint-sized mascot of a Blackpool horse rescue has died.

Dale the Shetland Pony, of World Horse Welfare Penny Farm, had to be euthanized on Wednesday after failing to respond to treatment for a serious underlying medical condition.

Dale in his younger days, shortly after he was rescued. Picture by Martin Bostock

Dale in his younger days, shortly after he was rescued. Picture by Martin Bostock

Dale, 22, came to the charity, on Preston New Road, 10 years ago in the first case where obesity was deemed grounds for suffering in animals.

He lost more than 10 stone in weight, and became a firm favourite with staff and visitors alike.

Zoe Clifford, who works at World Horse Welfare Penny Farm, said: "Because he came to us massively overweight, that led to some ongoing health conditions, and this is ultimately the outcome we expected.

"When he first came to us he was obese, and because he was such a superstar we got the weight off him.

"He was always so fond of attention, and so chilled-out we could do anything with him, and that's how he became out farm mascot. He helped with birthday parties, groom-a-pony sessions, junior club, farm events and went out and about representing World Horse Welfare at shows. I think he has really helped World Horse Welfare in Blackpool, because he's been such a little celebrity. When we took him anywhere people recognised him.

"Because Dale was a Shetland pony, he had a little door on his stable for him to see out of. He was always a greedy pony and when nobody was on the yard he would push his door open and help himself to carrots or whatever he could find. When he was a bit younger, he brought Santa to our Christmas Fair on his little cart for many a year.

"He was such a character, he loved attention and he was so laid-back. He was good with children and people with disabilities. If someone was in a wheelchair he'd put his head on their lap.

"It was definitely a difficult decision, but it was a team decision made with the vets. He had a good life with us and I hope he got the message out there that obesity is grounds for suffering and you're not doing your pet any favours by overfeeding them. He was more or less being fed to death.

"It's very upsetting for us because normally we rehome the horses in our care - hey're not usually with us for a long time. But because Dale was our farm mascot, we were very attached to him. It was fair to say there were some tears shed."