Nine year old boy bonds with pony only to discover they both have just one kidney

Nine year old boy bonds with pony only to discover they both have just one kidney

When young James Holmes visited Blackpool Rescue and Rehoming Centre and fell in love with a horse, he was amazed to discover that they’d both had surgery to remove a kidney when they were just a few months old.

“James underwent surgery to remove a kidney when he was nine months old. He was born with both kidneys, but when he was a week old, we were told that James’ right ureter and kidney had not formed properly. He was put on medication to control his blood pressure until he was strong enough to have the kidney removed at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital,” Angela Holmes, James’ mum said. It was a very difficult time for the family and they very nearly lost James.Nine year old boy bonds with pony only to discover they both have just one kidney

Thankfully he went on to make a full recovery and years later, when James was nine, he met Frankie, a one year-old 15hh skewbald Thoroughbred cross. She was born at World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in May 2011 after her mother was rescued as part of a large welfare case. Although Frankie was a content foal, her early life was also to suffer a setback when it was discovered that she was unable to pass water efficiently.

“I discovered that Frankie was not urinating properly and suspected a malformation, so I sent her to Liverpool Veterinary Hospital for further investigation,” said David Catlow BVSc MRCVS who is the main vet who looks after horses at the centre. “There they discovered that Frankie’s kidney and bladder were not properly connected so there were two choices – either to reconstruct the urethra (the tube connecting the kidney and the bladder) or to remove the kidney completely. The latter decision was made as it is entirely possible for a horse to live a normal and healthy life with one kidney and there was less risk of complication. It is an extremely rare condition in horses but with the skill and expertise of the vets at Leahurst, Frankie can now look forward to a long and happy future”.

After her operation, Frankie returned to the farm to spend time recovering from the surgery. Penny Farm is a thriving visitor centre and many visitors were keen to meet Frankie and hear her story: visitors including James, who came to the farm with his family from Preston earlier this year.

“Our first visit to Penny Farm was Easter this year. We went for the Easter Egg hunt and found Frankie too!”, said Mrs Holmes. “On James’ first visit he was naturally drawn to Frankie and spent lots of time making friends with her over the stable door. Then we walked over to the visitor centre, chatted to staff and found out about Frankie’s recent operation. I was really shocked by the coincidences between the two: James and Frankie had both had a kidney removed, at a Liverpool hospital and when they both just a few months old.Nine year old boy bonds with pony only to discover they both have just one kidney

“Of the 60 plus horses being looked after at the centre at the time, we thought it was an amazing coincidence that these two had formed a bond. Since then we have been back to visit many times and James is very fond of Frankie. He is also delighted and intrigued by other coincidences that have since emerged, such as the fact that both Frankie and James’ Nan, Patricia Poulton share the same birthday and that Penny Farm opened on 15th June 2001 – the same day James’ parents got married!”

Mr Catlow BVSc MRCVS added: “For James to have singled out Frankie as his favourite horse at Penny Farm is a remarkable story: one can’t help but feel that their similar experiences and special bond is something more than coincidence.”

Frankie is now fully rehabilitated and available for rehoming through World Horse Welfare where she will go to a good and loving home.

“James is both happy and sad that Frankie is now ready to be rehomed,” James’ mum continued. “He is happy because it means she’s settled and well enough to leave Penny Farm. She’s such a lovely friendly horse she deserves a very good, kind and loving home. He wishes we could have her but I’ve said I’ve got enough to look after!”

Find out more about rehoming a horse from World Horse Welfare at   You can also donate to the charity at

Frankie is a very special horse and will be very much missed by staff and visitors – especially James – but they all know that she will go on to thrive.

For further information, please contact World Horse Welfare Press Officer Suzanne Hunt on (01953) 497248