Some “clever detective work” enabled World Horse Welfare to rescue two ponies from a walled urban garden that was a “dustbowl” in summer and a “mudbath” in winter.
The mares, named Mary and Poppins, arrived at the charity’s Glenda Spooner Farm in February, having been removed from the garden in which they had been kept for many years. A spokesman for World Horse Welfare explained that numerous attempts by the charity’s field officers, other agencies and locals to support the ponies’ owner had been rejected.
Although there was no grass in the garden, and the ponies never left it, as they were given food and water, and had a small shelter, their “very basic needs for existence” were being met so legally, the charity was unable to move them.
“As concern over the ponies grew early this year, a piece of clever detective work by Penny Baker, field officer with World Horse Welfare, led to the breakthrough that meant the ponies could be removed from the site,” the spokesman said.
Penny added that in her 16 years of working in welfare, she had never previously dealt with an owner who “simply refuses to speak to me or enter into any communication with me”. “There was no way I could discuss the ponies’ situation with him, to work with him to improve their welfare and I knew the offers of help locals had offered over the years had similarly been rejected,” she said. “This left us in a very difficult position, so we started doing some investigations.”
It was believed that the walled garden belonged to the ponies’ owner but on checking, Penny found it belonged to someone else.
“Having contacted the landowners it became clear that they were worried about the ponies and had tried a number of different avenues to ensure that the owner removed them from the land, without success,” the spokesman said.
“Penny informed them of the Control of Horses Act, which enables a landowner to seize horses on their land without permission. The landowners placed the necessary notices and fulfilled other requirements of the act so that just four working days later, as the animals hadn’t been removed by the owner as requested, the landowners legally took ownership of them. The landowners were then able to sign the ponies over to World Horse Welfare and they were removed from the site and taken to Glenda Spooner Farm.”
Mary, 14, and four-year-old Poppins can now “enjoy the freedom, care and variety in their lives that they deserve”, the spokesman said, adding: “Now Mary and Poppins are getting used to life outside their small walled enclosure. Watching them explore and play in a paddock at Glenda Spooner Farm for the first time was an emotional moment.”
H&H speaks to established equine welfare charities to find out how this recent court case demonstrates the need for licensing
“None of these shortcomings are made up for by our horses’ having expensive tack or being immaculately turned out”
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
The long-term aim for both mares is to rehome them but they will need rehabilitation first.
Penny said: “Please consider sponsoring one of the four stable yards at World Horse Welfare to enable us to give ponies like Mary and Poppins the best chance of finally being placed into a loving home for the rest of their live. Your donations make such a difference.”
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.