The Veteran Horse Society is asking the public to be on the look out for signs of neglect and abuse at riding schools, following the case of three ponies found at a school in Wales.

Three aged ponies were found kept in a dusty indoor school, covered in lice, with little food, no access to water and barely able to walk. All of them were in full work at the school, which has now closed down.

Two of the ponies, 25-year-old, Ben (pictured top) and 30-year-old Amy (pictured below) are recovering at the society’s centre in Wales. A third pony, Melba, had to be put down due to worm damage.

Director of the Veteran Horse Society, Julianne Aston, said: “There’s a big problem out there. Sometimes the abuse is because of ignorance on the part of the riding school, particularly when it comes to regular dental checks and worming.”

“We know that a lot of ponies are kept going on ‘bute’. Owners go for older horses because they are plods, but often that’s because they’re in a lot of pain. And age is often given as an excuse for poor condition.”

The society is calling on local authorities to make more rigorous checks of the schools.

“Inspectors tend not to be equine qualified,” says Julianne. “There should be veterinary inspections made too – but obviously something is going wrong.”

The rescued pony, Ben, is expected to become the society’s promotion pony for 2003.

“We hope Ben will be at next year’sHorse of the Year Show, ” said Julianne.

The society is appealing for funds to help it care for the ponies now coming into its centre and it also needs foster homes for its veterans.

It is also asking riding schools to get in touch if they need help or want advice about keeping older horses.

For more information visit www.veteran-horse-society.co.uk or send a donation to : The Veteran Horse Society, Hendre Fawr Farm, St Dogmaels, Nr Cardigan, North Pembrokeshire, SA43 3LZ