A charity which has been working around the clock to save the lives of ponies on Welsh Gelligaer commons land is desperately seeking homes for more than 100 equines in its care ahead of winter.
The Welsh Pony Rescue Rehoming Charitable Trust, founded 30 years ago by Ann Keating, has since helped some 2,000 ponies by running a castration and re-homing programme and treating any injuries.
Volunteer Kay Lewis told H&H: “The Gelligaer common is very much overrun because of dumped ponies and constant breeding over many years. Our aim is to remove as many of the stallions as possible, castrate them and rehome them. That has been our massive drive since we started.”
The charity aims to rehome as many of the gelded ponies as possible and relies solely on fundraising through drives on its Facebook page.
“Our biggest challenge is getting the money in. Bigger organisations would prefer to cull on the commons but we don’t believe in that. If people were to come here and see the good quality and condition of the ponies, they would fully understand where we as a charity, are coming from.
“Seven years ago, there were 580 ponies on the common and today there are probably about 290. In 12 months we’ve castrated around 67 stallions. We’re on top of it but there are still probably 35 entire stallions on the commons who can still breed,” said Kay. “To castrate the last 35 would only cost £3,500 so it’s a small amount of money to solve a big problem but obviously it’s about getting this money in.”
The removed ponies, who are gelded, are kept by the charity until homes are found and any mares that have received treatment are returned to the commons.
“We have two yards we work between and over 150 acres of grazing which has to be paid for every month by our fundraising,” Kay said. “Our running costs for grazing and the yards is in the region of £900 a month so we have to raise that before we buy hay and straw, and pay veterinary bills.”
The charity averted a “catastrophe” in June when natural watering holes dried up in the heat leaving hundreds of ponies at risk of dying from dehydration.
“With the summer drought, it was so bad – the watering holes have never been empty in the 30 years the charity has been around. There were around 190 horses and no water anywhere,” Kay said.
With the voluntary assistance of companies Hanson UK Quarry and Miller Argent Mining and the local community, a rescue mission was launched transporting water from the quarry to the watering holes using drivers and tractors provided by Miller Argent.
“It was unbelievable. The companies and the community were amazing – we can’t thank them enough because we could have lost over half of the ponies on the commons in 48 hours if they hadn’t done what they did,” Kay said. They’d have died of dehydration – that’s how severe it was.”
The volunteers attend the commons daily checking for injured ponies or horses and ponies who have been abandoned.
“We’re on the common every day of the week. It’s a full time care package. I look sometimes and can’t believe what we have done,” said Kay. “We have the same problem as the rest of the country where you’ll get a phone call saying foals and ponies have been dumped. It’s an ongoing issue and I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the bottom of that but we’ll give them a chance.”
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The charity has rehomed around 800 horses to date, but with winter approaching and more than 100 ponies currently in its care, the trust is desperately trying to find homes.
Trustee Sharon Mock told H&H: “We want people to come over and see if they can help rehome the ponies in our care. Winter is coming and with the prices of hay and haylage going up we’re worried we could see a crisis as people can’t afford to feed their ponies.”
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