The Blue Cross is appealing for toys to help entertain young, wild ponies rescued from Bodmin Moor during their rehabilitation.
The ponies were taken in to the charity’s purpose-built centre in Rolleston, Staffordshire after being rounded up and left unclaimed on the moor last Autumn.
Overcrowding and lack of grazing in their native environment made survival tough and the ponies were in a poor state of health when they arrived.
The Blue Cross has designed all the buildings, stables and fields at its centres in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire to minimise stress and enhance natural behaviours, so the ponies are turned out in fields, large crew barns and woodchip areas. They are also kept in carefully selected groups so they can continue to play and interact.
But despite the tailored environment, ponies used to living feral on unfenced moor and heath can still find the transition to domestic life difficult.
Unlike domesticated horses, who have adjusted to less freedom and stimulation than those living in herds, feral ponies benefit from additional forms of enrichment, according to Rolleston rehoming centre manager Tess Scott-Adams.
“With the young Bodmin ponies we have noticed that they spend a lot of time being destructive and play-fighting,” she said. “Less than a year ago they roamed freely across the moors, able to play in streams, and across a varied terrain of hills, woods and stony out crops.
“Making the transition to a life of relative confinement is hard for them, no matter the excellent quality of the environment we are able to provide here at Blue Cross.
“Providing them with additional enrichment in the form of horse toys gives them something else to interact with and helps stimulate their inquisitive minds.”
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To find out how to support the appeal or give a Bodmin pony a home visit the Blue Cross website.
While treat-based toys would not suit the ponies — as all Blue Cross horses are fed a careful fibre-based diet, low in starch and sugar — the charity hopes people will donate toys such as play balls, mouthing fence toys and scratching mats.