‘It was a stunning sight’: 300 ponies ‘rehomed’ at Bramham

  • An equine sanctuary “rehomed” almost 300 ponies at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials (8-11 June).

    Hope Pastures Horse & Donkey Sanctuary in Leeds specialises in selling knitted ponies to raise money.

    The soft toys are made by volunteers at a weekly knitting group held at the sanctuary.

    The Yorkshire three-star chose Hope Pastures as its official charity for 2017 and put a call out on social media for others to “add to the herd” to sell at the horse trials.

    Kim Pengelly, the charity’s fundraising and PR co-ordinator, said the sanctuary was “astounded by the response”.

    “I could hardly keep up with the requests for patterns and found I was still sending these out at 2am for several days — it was wild,” she added.

    “Some were requests from existing supporters, but many were from people who just wanted to help, often also enlisting their mums and nans.

    “The pattern is quite easy, so even people who’ve had needles stuck for years in cupboards pulled them out, dusted them off and set to work to develop their own breeding programme.

    “We found it unbelievably humbling that so many people were prepared to go out of their way to help us make the most of the opportunity of being Bramham’s official charity.”

    George, who was “bred” for the Bramham team, and Hope Pastures’ mascot Mini-Muffin made some famous friends during the event. The pair even managed to bag a selfie with Zara Tindall and a chat with Oliver Townend.

    “Because the pattern is so simple, knitters started developing their own styles — some ponies had long, curly manes, some had rosettes or headcollars, some had bows and some are donkeys,” said Kim.

    “They’re all shades under the sun, with a handful even in football colours. When we put the herd together it was a stunning sight.

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    “We’ve been sent pictures of them in their new homes, in lorries and out on the cross-country course.

    “We had less than 30 left at the end of the four days, but our knitting group is on the case already.”

    The charity raised more than £6,600 through the pony sales, bag drop, tombola and a “test your core” competition over the four days.

    Don’t miss the full report from Bramham in this week’s Horse & Hound (15 June) — out now.

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