‘It was devastating’: death of foal ‘rescued’ by well-meaning walkers

  • Walkers have been warned not to touch foals on Dartmoor after a day-old colt died after being “rescued” by passers-by.

    The dun colt was found on 27 May by a group near Sharp Tor.

    Believing the foal had been abandoned by its mother, the walkers carried him over rough terrain for over an hour.

    They left him beside Luckey Tor and went to the nearby Rugglestone Inn for help.

    The landlord told them to call Charlotte Faulkner who runs the Friends of Dartmoor Hill Pony group.

    Mrs Faulkner set off immediately with her daughter Storm to find the foal.

    Unable to find him, the Faulkners knocked on the door of a farmhouse at the end of the track on which he had been left.

    We were getting desperate but they kindly came out with us to find him,” Mrs Faulkner told H&H.

    “It was starting to get dark but we found the foal snuggled up by some bushes and carried him between us back to the farmhouse, put him in the Land Rover and brought him home.”

    The foal was dehydrated and put straight on a bottle.

    A two-day search for the mother was unsuccessful but the foal, named Billy, was doing well on two-hourly feeds.

    Billy the Dartmoor Hill Pony foal who's life was saved finding him on the bleak Devon moor in the dead of night. Billy's very light colouring enabled him to be seen. Strict Copyright Laws Apply © Photograph - Richard Austin Tel: 07831-566005

    Billy, credit Richard Austin

    But five days later, on 5 June, he died. “It was devastating,” said Mrs Faulkner.

    She said this was the second time well-meaning members of the public had thought a foal had been abandoned, but that the mares will not leave them unless “something desperate has happened”.

    “There are so many wonderful people who walk on Dartmoor but we must work as a team,” she said

    “That means if you see something please take a note of the location and immediately contact us or the police.”

    Anyone who comes across a foal in difficulty should take careful note of where it is then call the Dartmoor livestock protection officer on 07873 587561.

    “She will ensure the correct actions for the wellbeing of that animal and involve the farmer who owns it. You can rest assured that it will looked after: taking it off the moor may not be in its best interests,” said Mrs Faulkner.

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    Walkers are encouraged to post pictures of the foals on the Dartmoor foal watch Facebook page or the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony website.

    These can help find new homes for the 500-600 foals that come off the moor in the autumn drift to be weaned and find new homes.

    About a third of these are sold at a pony sale in October and 10% go back into farmers’ herds.

    The rest are either rehomed or put down as only a certain number are allowed to graze on the commons under the Natural England agreement.

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