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The Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies (SWHP) celebrated its 30th anniversary in style last Friday, with help from the Princess Royal, who unveiled a plaque commemorating her first ever visit to the society’s headquarters.

Princess Anne spent approximately an hour at the society’s base at Coxstone Farm, Monmouthshire. The charity’s two miniature Shetland pony mascots, Sebastian and Merlin, greeted her on arrival.

During her visit Princess Anne met all 40 of the horses and ponies that are currently resident at the horse hospital. These include ex-racehorse Clubs Are Trumps, who was found abandoned in a DIY livery yard, and Boris, who was rescued with a broken pelvis as a foal after he had fallen 40ft into Trevir Quarry, Tredegar.

SWHP spokesperson Sian Lloyd says: “We feel enormously privileged that Princess Anne made time to visit us, as she is enormously busy. It was a very special day and all the ponies behaved immaculately.”

Thirty years ago, SWHP’s founder Sheila Richards bought some foals for a couple of pounds at a market to prevent them from being exported for slaughter on the continent. Although some of the foals had to be put down, Shelia raised those with potential, and hence SWHP was born.

The MacGregor family helped Sheila from the start, and in the mid 1980s, Jenny MacGregor took over as chairman. As the practice of exporting foals for slaughter dwindled, the society’s work changed and it now serves as an equine hospital, taking in sick, injured or abused animals before rehabilitating them and finding them new homes. The society currently has more than 250 horses and ponies in adopted care.

SWHP is run from the MacGregors’ farm at St Maughans, where the buildings have been adapted to stable up to 20 horses and ponies. The facilities have been developed to include slings and pulley systems that are vital in the rehabilitation of weak horses and ponies.

Chairman Jenny MacGregor told HHO that Princess Anne’s visit was a great honour, but it was now back to “business as usual”.

Ms MacGregor says: “We would like to make every story a success story, and for that, we depend on all our very generous supporters for their donations, as well as the time and energy devoted by all our voluntary helpers.”

For more information about the society, or to make a donation online, visit: www.swhp.co.uk. Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to “Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies” to SWHP, Coxstone, St Maughans, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 5QF.