An investigation is under way after two heavily pregnant mares foaled in their pens at a Warwickshire sale.

Visitors to the River Meadows Stud dispersal sale on 28 April at Stoneleigh Park were shocked to see the newborns at the sale and contacted the county council. Trading Standards is now investigating.

It is against the law to transport a horse in the final 10% of the gestation period – the two to three weeks before foaling.

The sale was of 200 gypsy cobs bred at the stud in Tenby, Dyfed. It was run by Rugby Farmers’ Mart Ltd.

An H&H reader who was at the sale said: “Most of the pens had three or more horses in a 12-foot square space. The mares and foals had been separated but would have been in with the others beforehand.

Stoneleigh Park is meant to be the hub of British equestrianism – how can cruelty like this take place just metres from the British Equestrian Federation’s offices?”

Auctioneer Craig Thompson told H&H: “It was unfortunate and the stud was told it must not happen again, but we dealt with it.

“There were also two horses that we did not think were in sufficiently good condition to be sold, so one mare and foal went home with them.

“The other was born a bit earlier in the day and we sold that one [with its dam].

“We made sure it went to someone who lived within 20 or 30 miles of the sale.”

Jenny Frearson of River Meadows told H&H: “The mares were not supposed to foal until June. Our vet had said they were OK to travel.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 May 2012)