Police believe they were mistaken for deer.
“The foals were unhandled so it was difficult to see exactly what injuries they had suffered,” Valerie Sherwin, who runs the centre, told H&H.
“We managed to get them in to the stables, but we practically had to carry one.
“Over the next few days, ‘Champ’ declined markedly and seemed to be suffering more and more pain. He had to be put down four days later.”
A post-mortem examination revealed the bullet had shattered his shoulder blade.
The other foal, “Bear” (pictured), shot in the lower neck, is recovering.
“The ponies were only 500 yards from my house so someone must have been out with high velocity rifles on private land,” said Valerie.
“We don’t believe it was a malicious attack, but it is absolutely disgusting that someone took a pot-shot at them and left them to suffer.”
An Exmoor National Park ranger told H&H: “I can almost guarantee the people who shot these ‘deer’ were there unbeknown to anyone and without permission. We have a problem with poaching.”
Police from Avon and Somerset Constabulary are investigating.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (14 January, ’10)