Nineteen ponies identified as being in “urgent need of care” have been removed from Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Defra ordered their removal after a welfare charity highlighted their plight.

South West Equine Protection’s (SWEP) Faye Stacey last month urged authorities to take action after she found five dead and three emaciated ponies within three weeks on the moor.

A round-up was carried out last Wednesday (23 February) led by Defra and Trading Standards and assisted by equine charities Redwings and HorseWorld.

Twelve of the ponies are currently at Redwings and seven more are at HorseWorld in Bristol, as they were not fit to travel to Redwing’s Norfolk headquarters.

“Many are very emaciated, lethargic, with heavy worm burdens and lice,” said Redwings spokesman Nicola Markwell. “However, since arriving they already seem brighter, they are eating their hay and feeds with enthusiasm so we are very hopeful they will make a full recovery.”

Redwings head of welfare Nicolas de Brauwere added: “I am certain that at least three of those ponies would not have lived for more than a few days without our help.”

Where appropriate, homes will be sought for the ponies but otherwise they will have a permanent home at the sanctuary.

No owners have yet been identified and locals and authorities still believe the ponies were dumped on the moor.

A spokesman for Defra added: “Once they have settled, they will be scanned for microchips to try to determine who they are registered to. Animal Health will continue to monitor ponies on the moor and we will take action whenever necessary.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (3 March, 2011)