It looked like the end of the road for this little pony, who had ended up in the worst of places, writes The Dodo.

At only 4 years old, he had been put on a horse auction site. Sadly, no one wanted to buy him, and his owner was threatening to send him to slaughter if a new family couldn’t be found at the end of the day. Luckily for him, one family stepped in to save him at the last minute.

The Hance family from Fort Worth, Texas, were looking through the horse auction site after moving onto a farm. They had learnt about the cruel places and were devastated to hear that so many beautiful horses and ponies would end their lives being killed for meat.

When they saw this adorable pony, along with a mare who also had just hours to live, they knew exactly what they had to do, as Kirk Hance told The Dodo:

I honestly didn’t know that such places existed. I showed my wife the site and it really got to us. My wife spotted both a little paint mare and this little pony; both were being shipped at the end of the day if nobody could step up. We just jumped immediately and purchased them.

Kirk. his wife Natasha and their 5 children were delighted to welcome the 2 neglected horses into their home and immediately set about making them feel part of the family. However, both horses had been neglected by owners who had resigned them to the slaughterhouse. At first they were wary, knowing only cruelty from humans, and were quite skittish. To Kirk, Tobias even seemed depressed, not wanting anyone to go near him and staring at the ground.

For a while, the new owner left Tobias to himself, letting the little pony approach on his own terms. And after some time getting used to his new life, the pony finally realized that he was safe. He came up to Kirk, who was determined to show the sweet animal that he was loved:

I knew I needed to get down on his level and just show him I cared for him. He came up to me, and what started as me just petting him softly and reassuring him it was OK, turned into a full embrace. I just sat there for a few minutes holding him. He seemed to relax and almost fell asleep as if he knew he was safe.

Since then, Tobias and his companion have settled into their new home, where they are surrounded by love from their large family every day.

“The only thing we would have done differently is to have done it sooner. There are way too many innocent animals being discarded like trash,” Kirk said.