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A tiny shetland pony foal being held by two members of staff

Bransby Horses Welcome Tiny Foal Into The World

22nd May 2024

The pitter patter of tiny hooves has caused huge excitement here at Bransby Horses. 

While it’s not unusual for foals from rescued mares to be born with us, the arrival of Pika has caused quite a stir. 

His mum is a Shetland pony called Polly, who stands around 81cm or 8hh high, so of course her new-born son is about half that, making him one if not THE smallest horse we’ve ever had in our care. 

He is smaller than the average family dog, weighing in at just 12kg. 

Bransby Horses’ Senior Press Officer, Maria Thompson, said: “We had been watching Polly very carefully for the past few days, expecting a foal to arrive any day. She was so quick to give birth that when she was checked at suppertime there was no sign, and half an hour later there she was with her foal. 

“We just can’t get over how lovely they both are. We have had to adjust the fencing as it’s too high and would not keep Pika safe. We are so pleased both mother and son are doing well as it was touch and go for Polly when she first came to us but, thanks to our wonderful supporters, we were able to provide the care she needed.” 

Pika is very small but not necessarily perfectly formed as there are health issues we will need to be on the lookout for as he gets older. 

Being smaller, miniature Shetland ponies can be more susceptible to poor welfare and health conditions, including teeth problems and obesity.  

Welfare Manager, Rachel Jenkinson, said: “While they may look cute, we really would not recommend breeding or purchasing miniature ponies without careful thought and consideration.  

“Like all equines, Shetland ponies and miniatures need specialist care and management and should only be taken on by knowledgeable people who are prepared to put the animal’s needs first for their entire lifetime, which can be well over a 30-year commitment.” 

Polly was first seen by a vet at one of the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Healthcare Clinics. These clinics are aimed at engaging hard-to-reach communities and provide free advice and reduced cost services such as passporting, castration, farrier services, a weigh bridge and veterinary advice to horse owner. 

Bransby Horses work with the BHS at these clinics and, as was the case of Polly, were able to take in a vulnerable equine when there was no other viable option.

Pika and Polly looking cosy.

Bransby Horses’ Welfare and Rescue Officer, Nadine Hall, said: “Polly was very sick when we first saw her. Her breathing was laboured, and she had muscle tremors. She had a suspected calcium deficiency, and further veterinary investigations showed her liver was not working, a condition which may require long term [sanctuary] care, alongside her pregnancy.  

“After initial treatment to ensure she was well enough to travel, she was first taken to a specialist equine hospital for urgent medical attention. She very nearly died because of her conditions. Following a miraculous recovery, Polly was transported to our intensive care unit where she gave birth a few weeks later. 

“So far mother and baby are doing well, Polly has responded to liver treatment and the liver is starting to work now, although there is still ongoing healing. We are monitoring them closely and hope to get them out into a bigger paddock once we have adjusted the fencing.”

A new rung has been added to the fence to prevent Pika escaping


Bransby Horses work independently and alongside the BHS and other animal welfare organisations to provide equine welfare advice, support and rescue services across the country. 

To find out more about work and to follow Polly and baby Pika’s story, visit and follow and share our stories on social media. 

  • If you are visiting us please be aware Pika and Polly are not on view to the public at this time.