A group of 35 small ponies were rescued in Norfolk last week in a joint operation between the RSPCA and Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

The ponies were removed from a riverbank in Downham Market on Wednesday, 18 February. They were being kept in a semi-feral state in a waterlogged stretch of the riverbank by the River Great Ouse.

The ponies are described by the charities as small, and many are very young. Their conditions vary between thin to emaciated, all had matted tails and manes and were infested with lice.

They were removed from the riverbank after a vet visited the area and confirmed some of the equines were suffering and the others were at risk of lack of food. The riverbank was littered with rubbish and sharp bits of broken machinery — and extremely waterlogged.

The charities are now appealing for information on the owner of the ponies.

RSPCA inspector Jon Knight said: “These ponies were in a very poor condition and could not stay in that environment. The priority now must be to bring them all back to good health, but we desperately need to speak to their owner.

The ponies are now in the care of Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Redwings spokesman Nicola Markwell told H&H the ponies were not Shetlands or miniatures.

“They’re about 10-11hh, and are quite fine — like small Welsh section A types,” she said.

If you have any information about the owner of the ponies, call the RSPCA in confidence on 0300 1234 999. Photographs and more information is available from www.redwings.org.uk.