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Gizmo the Foal Wins Top Spot at Equifest 2015

24 August 2015
RSPCA

UK - A foal who captured the hearts of the nation since being rescued just six months ago has won a prestigious prize at one of the biggest equine events in the country.

Gizmo, a nine-month old foal who was collapsed and abandoned when discovered earlier this year, was crowned PRP Horsebox Rescue / RSPCA Rescue Pony Of The Year recently.

He has been cared for at Catley Cross Veterinary Clinic in Essex since his rescue by the RSPCA in February, and has since been rehomed by the veterinary team.

Gizmo was found alone at the side of a road in Essex, collapsed, riddled with lice and redworm, was hypothermic, dehydrated and had pneumonia. He was so weak that he had to be carried to the horsebox on a blanket.

Gizmo’s condition was so critical that he received both blood and plasma transfusions as part of his treatment.

The atmosphere in the Peterborough arena was electric for the entire evening, as spectators watched the champions announced in each class. But it was the PRP/RSPCA Rescue Horse and Pony Class which moved the audience so much with each horse or pony’s story, many were in tears, including judges.

Out of over 60 horses and ponies who had been qualifying in classes earlier in the day, with the top two from each of the six classes going through to Saturday evening’s championship, with Gizmo ultimately taking the top spot and being crowned overall champion.

Carolyn Wyse, veterinary surgeon at Catley Cross Vets in Halstead, Essex couldn’t be prouder of Gizmo, saying: “I have never known a foal like Gizmo before, he’s become almost human! He is so special to us and we were already so proud of his recovery and this is the icing on the cake.

"There were times since his rescue where we thought he may not have made it, but now he has come through it all and is just the most wonderful little man.

“As a veterinary team, we have to deal with terrible stories on a regular basis and accept that sometimes we and the RSPCA just can’t get there in time to save an animal, but Gizmo’s recovery and success makes it all worthwhile. He is proof that every horse counts, and every animal deserves a chance. We at Catley Cross have now officially adopted him, and he will be with us forever.

“Gizmo has a huge following of loving, caring fans. He has more than 15,000 fans on Facebook alone and a huge number of wonderful people have donated a total of over £23,000 towards his care and recovery.

"It has been lovely to meet so many people at Equifest who have shared his story and followed him every step of the way. It means everything to us that people love him as much as we do.”

The tough job of choosing the winner was down to judges Mrs Janet Bushell, Mr John Cookson, Mr Rob Buckley and Ms Maxine Bevan-Jones, who all agreed that judging the class was an extremely emotional process.

“Tissue sales have definitely gone up here in Peterborough!” John Cookson said.

“We were unanimous in deciding that Gizmo was the clear winner, but it was extremely tough. Not only did he have the highest marks of the day in his qualifying class, his story has been followed by thousands of people and his story has touched so many.

"The connection between Gizmo and his handler, Louise, is extremely noticeable, and it is wonderful to see.

“We were so humbled to be standing in that arena, hearing these harrowing but extremely inspiring stories. This is definitely the hardest class for us to judge, as it really pulls at our heartstrings, but ultimately it was an honour to judge these amazing ponies for the RSPCA.”

The team of four judges went on to praise the reserve champion, previous winner Little Ted.

“Little Ted was a well-deserving reserve champion. He is credit to his owners and a really lovely pony. He’s been through a great deal in his life and has now had three fantastic years since his rescue, including being champion of this class twice!”

Little Ted’s owner Sharon Harris was once again delighted to have her pony’s history and success recognised in the class.

She said: “He’s been the champion of this class twice before, which shows just how amazing his story is. We go to other big shows like HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) and the RIHS (Royal International Horse Show) but this class still means everything to us.

"My niece Jess Goodier has shown Little Ted in this class today and previously, I’m so proud of the pair of them. This was actually Little Ted’s last appearance in the class as he is heading for retirement. We’ve been so lucky to have won this class before and be named reserve champion today, now he can go on to relax and enjoy his retirement!”

This year was the fourth RSPCA and PRP Rescue Services Rescue Horse/Pony of the Year competition and attracted more entries than ever for the six in-hand and ridden classes.

Jon Phillips of PRP Horsebox Rescue said: “I have always believed in the work that the RSPCA does, and sponsoring this class each year has provided me with an opportunity to contribute to the work and hopefully make a difference to the charity.”

Entries came from numerous equine charities and sanctuaries including Blue Cross, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare and the horses and ponies were judged on their stories of survival as well as their transformation.

The five-day event also saw the debut of a new ‘display ring,’ which featured demonstrations and parades through the duration of the show giving spectators a chance to learn about the ‘before and after’ lives of RSPCA rescue horses and ponies.

Staff from the RSPCA’s specialist equine centres - Gonsal Farm Equine Centre near Shrewsbury, Felledge Equine Centre in County Durham, Millbrook Animal Centre and Lockwood Centre for Horses and Donkeys in Surrey - took a number of rescue horses and ponies to the show and 12 were reserved by new owners, with the majority going directly from Equifest to their new homes as home checks were completed during the week of the show.

RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde, who heads the 14-strong team of specialist equine inspectors and helped organise the prestigious classes, said: “This competition is going from strength to strength.

"It’s a great way to celebrate the work of charities, sanctuaries and new owners as well as showcase horses and ponies who need new homes. We are so proud of Gizmo and Little Ted, they are a shining example of the work we do here at the RSPCA.

“I’d like to thank all of our generous sponsors and the organisers of Equifest. Without them this increasingly popular competition would not be possible.”

“I’d also like to thank my fantastic team of equine officers who have assisted with the RSPCA stand here by talking to visitors, answering questions and securing homes for the horses and ponies we brought with us. That really is a fantastic result and great news for the super horses and ponies we have that are looking for their forever homes.”

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