A teenager has apologised to a rescue charity for causing ones of its ponies to injure itself on fencing when he chased horses round a field.
Dartmoor hill pony Jet, who is thought to be around seven years old, needed vet treatment after he cut himself on fencing at Brinsley Animal Rescue Centre in Nottingham.
Trustee Jon Berrisford, who founded the centre with his partner Beth Hewis, said he had gone to check the ponies with his dog when he saw a group of young people on the footpath that runs between two of their fields.
“We have rescued bulls, cows and ponies — mainly from Dartmoor — in those fields and we go down there two or three times a day to make sure everything is OK,” Jon said.
“This time, I saw a large gang of young people coming towards me, making lots of noise on the public right of way, and then saw one of them climb over the fence and into the field.
“He was screaming and shouting, waving his arms and chasing the ponies and the people with him on the path were goading him, saying things like ‘get on the ponies’,” Jon said.
Although Jon shouted at the boy “several times”, he was unable to hear over the noise, which was spooking the horses and causing them to gallop round.
Eventually, the youth climbed back out, and was subsequently warned that not only had he frightened the horses but had also risked injury by climbing into a field with bulls.
As the teenagers arrived, Beth had been working with Jet in the starvation paddock at the other end of the track.
“Jet is one of the ponies we bought from the annual drift sale to save them from going to slaughter,” Jon said. “We work with them to gain their trust and then rehome them — we have around 150 we have already placed out on loan.
“He was whipped up into a bit of a frenzy when the group stopped at the fence making noise, and my partner had to let go of his leadrope. When he was unable to get back to the herd, who were running round, he started panicking and ended up impaling himself on the fence.”
“He was physically and mentally damaged by what happened,” Jon added. “He was one we had been working with a long time and it set him back, he was very jumpy.”
Someone has come forward to offer Jet a home since the incident.
“He’s already healed up quite well after the vet came to clean the wound and give him antibiotics,’ Jon added. “We just need to work on loading him and then hopefully he will be off to his new home.”
The group of teenagers had been posting videos of the incident on Snapchat and one of these was shared to Brinsley Animal Rescue, which posted it on Facebook. After coming under heavy criticism on social media, the brother of the boy who climbed the fence (who was not present at the time) came forward to say his sibling was “very sorry” for what happened.
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The charity arranged for the brothers to meet them to “make amends” and fix the fence. Police also attended and warned the boy that he could have been charged with aggravated trespass and criminal damage.
“We are strong believers in rehabilitation not punishment and we are hoping he learns a valuable lesson from this,” Jon said.
“I made sure he was aware of the impact it had on the pony and the work we had put in.”
Jon said the boys had been out in the field poo-picking and said they would come back to help the charity out again.
“We understand that when people are young they make mistakes,” he added.
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