A new website is to be launched to try to address the issue of surplus Shetland broodmares.

The selling site, which will go live on 1 September, makes it a condition of sale that any mare bought from the scheme is not subsequently bred from.

However there is no legislation backing the condition of sale.

Gerry Hart, who runs the site, said: “At the moment there are mares of all breeds standing barren all over the country waiting for the economy to turn around.

“By selling them via this site their lives could be given a purpose as, for example, a pony pet, while also helping to deal with the problem of over-breeding. Short of culling this seems to be the best idea.

“The reason we are trying to limit breeding mares is simple — you may have 50 stallions but if you only have one mare you can only breed one foal a season, if vice versa then you could have up to 50 foals.”

“At the end of the day, the vendor is not obliged to sell to a buyer — if they think the person is dodgy then I would urge them not to sell.

“It is the responsibility of the vendor to try to sell responsibly.”

A spokesman for World Horse Welfare said: “We see many problems with overbreeding and overstocking nationwide and we are in favour of any actions that may help control the issue of overbreeding.

“However, as there is only a verbal agreement and nothing legally binding concerning the ponies’ use once the sale is completed, problems could potentially arise if unscrupulous people purchase ponies.

“We also have concerns about people buying ponies unseen off the internet and would always urge people to meet the horse or pony at least once to ensure the best possible match is found.”

However H&H spoke to many breeders who believed the site to be a positive idea.

Lisa Slinn, who breeds Shetlands at the Brackenfield Stud, thinks it’s a brilliant idea. “There are a lot of breeders at the moment who are trying to do the right thing and cut down on breeding mares and consequently the amount of foals they produce,” she said.

“It is true that this can flood the market, but in the long term it is a responsible action that is being taken.

“By selling them this way it will give the mares a purpose in life, instead of simply being sold on repeatedly before going to the meat man.”

For more information about the site visit http://www.shetland-pony.com/news/#maresale and to see how the page will look visit http://www.shetland-pony.com/maresale/