THE winning team at a Pony Club mounted games final in Newcastle has been disqualified and stripped of their Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket following accusations of cruelty.

Outraged competitors and spectators bombarded the Pony Club with complaints, claiming a member of the winning Cheshire Hunt North branch team had beaten his pony with a pole during the Mounted Games Zone Finals 2008 at Newcastle Racecourse on 5-6 July.

But trainer of Cheshire Hunt North, Richard Marsden, said: “The majority of the complaints came from one team. It was sour grapes.”

Helen Sear, 18, is a Pony Club member who witnessed the incident. She told H&H that a boy repeatedly hit his pony with the pole used in the litter race and thumped the pony in the head .

No action was taken by Pony Club officials on the day but Cheshire Hunt North was disqualified a week later. The East Down team have now won.

Rosalind Slinger, of the Pony Club, said: “The members are trying to put the episode behind them. A full investigation was carried out.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (14 August, ’08)