Microchips and an advert in H&H played crucial roles in reuniting four stolen Shetlands with their owner.

The ponies were taken from a field in Shepperton, Surrey, in March 2006. Their owner, Jo Seaman, told H&H: “We drove miles looking for them — 1,000 in one week.”

The first to be returned, Fizz, was recovered five days after the theft when Surrey Action for Equine (SAFE) learned of a chestnut Shetland bought near Gatwick. Because all the ponies were microchipped, police were able to scan and identify Fizz.

Last May, Ms Seaman’s search led her to Wickham Fair, where she found Tonto tied to a lorry. Police were alerted and his chip confirmed his identity. But no one at the fair claimed responsibility for him.

After a leafleting campaign, and even a visit to a psychic, Ms Seaman eventually took out an advert in H&H.

“Within a week of the ad, Petlog [a reunification service with a National Pet Identification database, which has a record of more than 80,000 horses] rang to say someone had tried to re-register Rosie. Her markings are very distinctive,” said Ms Seaman.

A couple near Reigate, Surrey, had bought Rosie in good faith but minus a passport. They were “devastated” to discover she was stolen, but the microchip proved identity.

Two weeks later Ms Seaman received a call from a woman in Claygate who recognised Becks from his picture in the H&H ad. Local police scanned the microchip and confirmed his identity.

A spokesman for Hampshire Horsewatch said the recovery of all four ponies was down to “the owner’s commitment, perseverance and endeavour over the past 13 months”.

  • June is National Microchipping Month when vet surgeries across the UK will be holding special clinics. Visit www.nationalmicrochippingmonth.org.uk for more details.