An orphaned foal skips for joy as he takes his first trot – after being nursed back to health by a GIANT TEDDY.
One-month-old hill pony Breeze was found abandoned just a few hours after his birth on Dartmoor National Park in Devon.
Unable to find his mother, the tiny foundling was stumbling hopelessly around the hillside, desperately dehydrated and trying to suckle other mares.
Rescuers from a local equine sanctuary began nursing him back to health but he was missing one vital thing – a mum to cuddle and snuggle up to.
Caring staff at the Devon-based Mare and Foal Sanctuary knew just the answer to comfort the lonely newborn – a four foot teddy called Buttons.
Breeze immediately took to his stuffed surrogate, sleeping soundly in its lap as he gradually regained his strength thanks to round-the-clock feeding and medication.
Weeks on he has now taken first his tentative steps outside – enjoying the sunshine and company of another tiny pony called Pippin.
Michelle Johnson, a stable hand and groomer at the sanctuary’s Honeysuckle Farm in Newton Abbot, Devon, said: “He was quite poorly but now he’s going from strength to strength.
“He’s becoming a right little character. He’s a real cheeky chappie and loves to go out in the field and play with his little friend Pippin.
“He charges around like a madman and picks up all sorts of things he shouldn’t like sticks and stones.
“We’re constantly chasing him around trying to get them out of his mouth.”
Staff are gradually weaning Breeze off his bottle and on to a bowl so he gets used to feeding without the help of humans.
They hope he will eventually be re-homed, at which time his giant teddy mum will be passed on to another new arrival in need of a hug.
The sanctuary certainly have no shortage of soft toys after photos of Breeze cuddling Buttons prompted well-wishers to send them dozens more.
Ms Johnson added: “He still likes to go and cuddle up with his teddies at night time. He loves them – we try and give him a new one each day.
“Hopefully when he’s older, bigger and stronger he’ll get re-homed and live a long and happy life.”