In July 2010 the SPCA seized 38 starving and injured horses in New Brunswick. Most of the animals were emaciated, with open sores and eye damage.

Now, one of the worst cases is almost fully recovered, thanks to patient new owners and an animal rescue facility in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County.

Volunteers helped to look after the horses and one of them, Janice MacLaughlin, decided to adopt one of the horses named Becca.

“When I looked in the horse trailer, when they came, she was the first horse I looked at was her, and her eye was collapsed in, with green pus running down her face. She was a rack of bones, barely able to stand up,” says MacLaughlin.

“They thought it was more humane to euthanize her when we unloaded her off the trailer, that’s how bad she looked. She was collapsing on the floor to her stall the first day we got her and then we thought she was dead.”

MacLaughlin decided to bring Becca to Earth Arc, a small rescue centre in Four Mile Brook for animals near the end of their lives.

Raven Jackson has operated the centre for more than a decade. She knew just how to bring Becca back.

“The hardest thing to do is to do it slowly,” says Jackson. “Cause you’d love to push the food on to them and make them get fat, but it takes about a year-and-a-half of very slow increases.”

One of Becca’s eyes had to be removed, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed her down.

Her weight is good and she’s slowly adapting to having people around who won’t hurt her.

“When we brought her here, you wouldn’t have gotten near her, we wouldn’t have gotten near her, and now she’s coming to see us,” says MacLaughlin.

“She’s letting us groom her. It’s baby steps, it’s all on Becca’s time.”

Becca will stay at the rescue centre over Christmas and Jackson says she is hoping the horse may be able to go home by the spring.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh