Mare rescued with semi-feral M25 herd stands reserve champion in her new life

  • A mare who was one of 130 semi-feral ponies rescued from a large site by the M25 has gone on to showing success with a keeper who believes fate brought them together.

    Ayla was about a year old when she was removed, along with others, from the large site in a major, multi-agency operation in 2019. Now three, she lives with Jazmine Sidwell and her daughter Bria.

    Jazmine told H&H she lost her previous rescue horse Spirit, whom she had had for 18 years, in 2018, and shortly afterwards Bria lost her first pony.

    “We were absolutely beyond broken,” she said. “It shattered our hearts.”

    When Jazmine started looking for another horse, something she could enjoy from the ground and Bria could ride, she had no luck.

    “We searched breeder after breeder, advert after advert, with no luck, for about a year,” she said. “Then one day, I was online, and thought I’d look at rescues again.

    “I came across the Blue Cross site, and as soon as I saw Ayla’s photo, I knew. I’d looked through hundreds of photos but with her, I just knew, and when I spoke to [the charity] I knew she was the one, it was fate.”

    Jazmine went to see Ayla soon afterwards, then brought her home the following week, where she now lives with Nettle, who also came from the Blue Cross.

    Almost a year later, 13.1hh Ayla and Jazmine have “done absolutely everything together”.

    “We’ve bonded on the ground, and my daughter’s absolutely infatuated with her,” she said.

    “Then on 13 June, we went to our first affiliated show, in hand, and she was TGCA [Traditional Gypsy Cob Association] reserve champion. I’d entered just for her education, to have a day out, and I cried my eyes out in the ring, and haven’t stopped smiling since. I’m so proud of her.”

    Jazmine and Ayla have qualified for the TGCA Traditional of the Year Show at Onley Grounds (29-31 July), and the plan is to back her in future, with hopes of Bria riding.

    “I was a child when we rescued Spirit, and grew up with her so it’s like fate repeating itself; she’ll be for my daughter to ride and have her horse of a lifetime,” Jazmine said.

    “The Blue Cross sent me all the information about what had happened to her before and it breaks my heart but I feel so lucky fate has worked and she’s in my life now; she’s so loved.

    “I hope her story prompts people to look at rescue horses and have more of an open mind about them; they’re great horses with a lot of love to give.”

    Continues below…

    Blue Cross rehoming co-ordinator Lauren Bush told H&H: “Ayla was a star from day one, a real sweet-natured youngster with so much potential as a showing, riding or driving pony.

    “Sadly she and the horses she came in with were not in a great state when they first arrived, but they quickly made progress with care and work from the team here at Burford.

    “It’s wonderful to hear that she is getting on so well and to see how much she has flourished and grown in the care of her new home.

    “We have a number of horses just like her currently looking for new homes, from projects to companions, who are just waiting for a second chance at our rehoming centres in Rolleston and Burford.”

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