Top dressage rider and trainer Pammy Hutton has praised the power of social media after a horse who went missing yesterday (2 October) was found the next day.
Hanoverian gelding Dante lives out at the Talland School of Equitation, Gloucestershire, but he was not in his field yesterday morning.
Pammy told H&H at first it was thought the eight-year-old must be in a stable or elsewhere on the 120-acre property but it soon became clear he was gone, at which point they put out a social media appeal.
“The whole farm is absolutely secure but unfortunately, he’d jumped out,” Pammy said. “I was in the office and I said: ‘Let’s Facebook it’. Within three-quarters of an hour, it was let loose.”
The posts by Talland and on Pammy’s page were shared about 30,000 times and calls soon started to come through.
“Someone rang to say they’d heard what sounded like a horse going past their house at about 4.30am,” Pammy said. “So we sent someone down to the road and could see where he’d skidded – so we followed the skid marks.”
Police and farmers had also been contacted but by this point, dark was falling and the search was put on hold until today – when Dante was found three miles away.
“We know he’d gone down to the main Fairford-Cirencester Road; we’re so lucky he wasn’t hit by a car,” Pammy said.
Talland manager Emma Harford told H&H she and other members of the team had tracked Dante to the A417 before they lost the light. Then this morning, they followed his tracks to a wood behind a field, behind the Post Office in Poulton village.
“We’re not really sure how he got there but we didn’t really care!” she said.
“He’s got a couple of nasty cuts but I think they look worse than they are. We’re not sure whether he went down on the road or caught himself on something; he has to have jumped somewhere.”
Emma said it was odd that police had had no reports of a loose horse, despite the fact tracks show Dante travelled along the main road.
“How on earth no driver saw him, or hit him, I don’t know,” she said.
“Bless him, he’s a real wuss on the roads too, but when we got to him, he was bright, and just looked happy to be with people. We thought we were going to find him in a ditch somewhere.”
Smarty’s owner has thanked all those who shared her appeal
There are some competition days that we will never forget — for all the right or wrong reasons. Emma Shadbolt
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
Pammy added that Dante was a highly sensitive horse who had been given to Talland as he had issues with being ridden, and that it had taken a year to get him to settle.
“Three days ago, I said: ‘My goodness – at last! Dante’s settled,” she said. “He’s a lovely, quality horse, but just very sensitive.
“I’m very lucky with my Facebook following as they’re very positive, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and attention to detail everyone’s put into trying to help us track down our horse – and it was Facebook that gave us the first clue.
“We’re so lucky, but to my horror, when I heard he’d been found, I burst into tears. I’m supposed to be tough – this has ruined my image!”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.