A pony rescued from a dilapidated building from West Wales is now transforming the lives of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Martin Clunes with Gareth Johnson & BarlowDun-coloured Welsh mountain pony Barlow was rescued from squalid stables by the RSPCA – before undergoing a period of rehabilitation in North Wales.

RSPCA Cymru found Barlow in appalling conditions. An officer from the charity heard banging noises at the site, and was stunned to find three ponies in a dilapidated stable, without room to stand up.

Barlow had overgrown hooves and was living with his stablemates in faeces approximately 3 to 4 feet deep.

The horse has undergone a dramatic transformation in the care of the RSPCA – and now himself is changing the lives of others, via an exciting partnership between The British Horse Society (BHS) and the RSPCA.

‘Changing Lives through Horses’ is a programme aiming at reaching NEET young people, aged between ten and 24, at a critical point in their lives. It has received celebrity endorsement – from Martin Clunes, actor and BHS President.

The scheme uses horses – like Barlow – as the inspiration for change, and offers an alternative learning environment to mainstream education: Communication, Confidence, Relationships, Teamwork, Responsibility, Personal Achievement.

RSPCA Cymru say it is “remarkable” that the scheme not only helps young people, but offers them support from horses who themselves have often gone through life-changing transformation.

The charity has almost 900 horses in its care, and hopes more rescued from situations of abandonment or neglect will enjoy a fresh lease of life via the ‘Changing Lives’ programme.

Gareth Johnson, Equine Welfare Operations Manager at the RSPCA, says: “Barlow’s story is absolutely remarkable. When the RSPCA found this poor pony, he was in desperate circumstances.

“Thankfully, we rescued him and Barlow went on a journey of rehabilitation and care that have him become the amazing, impressive pony he is today.

“Barlow was found to be lame, and was badly distressed. He also had overgrown twisted hooves and was laying in a soiled wet area. The transformation is incredible.

“His life has been turned around in RSPCA care, and now Barlow is now integral to the amazing ‘Changing Lives through Horses’. We are so proud to work with the BHS on a scheme which is teaching NEET young people invaluable life skills which can give them new opportunities.

“With so many horses in our care, we hope more equines can support this scheme and positively change the lives of young people forever.”

Martin Clunes, President of the BHS added: “I couldn’t be happier about supporting this new collaboration between the BHS and the RSPCA. I’ve been a massive fan of the BHS’s Changing Lives through Horses programme since it launched three years ago.

“The programme is aimed at the young people and helping them get back into education and the workplace. It’s about learning new skills in a unique environment and now, we are also helping horses to have a new start in life too. It doesn’t get any better.”

More information on the Changing Lives project can be found on the BHS website.