Happier times: At 51, Badger is the world's oldest horse.

The world's oldest horse looks set for happier times after being rescued from the brink of starvation.

At 51 years old, Badger, a grey Arab-Welsh cross, is officially the oldest living horse in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, equivalent to a human living to 150 or older.

Only four months ago, Badger was fighting for life after the livery yard where he was kept had treated him so poorly that he was on the brink of starvation.

The founder and director of the Veteran Horse Society, Julianne Aston, who rescued Badger from the yard, has worked tirelessly over the past months to nurse him back to health at the society's base in Cardigan, Pembrokeshire, in west Wales.

Ms Aston said: "Badger was in an awful state, disgusting. When we first saw him he looked similar to a greyhound. His age didn't warrant that sort of condition.

"It was quoted that the horse has anorexia but there is no such condition. We had to care for him every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day for the first month.

"For his age and his condition how he survived we'll never know."

Badger has led a charmed life with several owners down through the years, but little is known of the gelding's early years except that he was born in 1953 in Wales.

In the 1960s he was bought by a Welsh riding instructor who entered him in the Horse of the Year Show under the name Little Boy Blue, and success followed in the show-jumping arena.

In the early 1970s Badger was sold to a young Swansea family, but when the children grew too big too ride him he was sold on to an owner who cared for him for 20 years.

Badger was stabled at a livery yard in 1997 after his owner gave birth to a daughter, and with family commitments restricting her visits she trusted the yard to look after the gelding.