Starved, crippled by his overgrown hooves and trapped cowering in a pitch-black stable, he was a picture of neglect.
When RSPCA officers raided a farm and discovered six-year-old chestnut Ali, they feared he might never walk properly again.
But, against all the odds, Ali is not only walking - he has become a prize-winning show pony.
Enlarge Magnificent creature: Ali, a six-year-old chestnut gelding takes part in a horse show after his rescue by the RSPCA
Yesterday an RSPCA officer, who was so shocked by Ali's state that she adopted him, described his ordeal - and his eventual triumph.
Jackie Hickman, 38, said: 'I've never seen anything like it before.
'I'm a registered farrier and Ali's feet looked like they had never been looked at, treated or filed. The pain for him must have been excruciating, his hooves were around a foot overgrown and had even started to curl upwards.
'I knew that it would take months to nurse him back to health and didn't even know if he would ever be able to walk properly.'
Pitiful: Ali as he was when found, emaciated, covered in sores and with unclipped hooves curling up
But just a year later the pony boasts a long glossy mane and perfectly trimmed hooves.
His looks have earned him a winning rosette in the 'in hand' class - where the animals are led rather than ridden.
'Ali has been through so much in a very short space of time,' said Mrs Hickman, from Staffordshire.
'He had never been handled or turned out, he had been locked in a dark stable with another neglected pony who had to be put down.
'I took him to the show to improve his confidence and let him have a look around. But he was so at ease that I decided to enter him into a class.
'Amazingly he picked up a rosette, I was really proud of him.'
Ali was rescued from the home of Monica Hewitt, 84, from Roston, Derbyshire, who earlier this month was jailed for four months.
Hewitt, who was a pony club judge for more than 20 years, admitted 13 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
A total of 31 horses were found in squalid conditions at her farm in March last year.
Seven of them had to be put down.
Mrs Hickman said: 'When I saw Ali, I just knew I had to give him a home.
'He is such a happy chappie and he has learned to trust me. He comes up for a cuddle and is very loving.'
From starving waif to star of the show: The pony with curled-up hooves who recovered to become a prize-winner | Mail Online