Offers of new homes have been flooding in to a family from the Highlands who are giving away semi-feral Shetland ponies.
The ponies belonged to Ted Noble of Cannich, who bred and exported them all over the Continent where there was a huge market for pedigree ponies.
Ted died nine years ago and the farm now belongs to his daughter Elizabeth Noble and her brother.
Elizabeth’s sister-in-law explained: “Ted swapped his father’s rifle for his first Shetland pony and it went from there. They are all line-bred and they are beautiful ponies.
“Ted kept the ponies on the hills and in winter they came down and he fed them. If there was a problem we’d take them in and look after them but that didn’t happen very often.
“Now it is simply not economically viable to keep the ponies. We gave some away in the spring through the local shops, but they keep breeding so the numbers carry on increasing.”
The ponies’ pedigrees have lapsed so for sale purposes they are only worth about £15. The family are adamant that they should not go to a dealer, fearing that would lead them straight into the meat market.
Since putting out the call for new homes through the local press the Nobles have been inundated with calls. Elizabeth’s sister-in-law said: “We have homed 16 ponies and there are about 20 still waiting.
“We’ve got stallions, mares and foals and they are super ponies. But of course they need specialised homes because they are not handled. There was a girl who fed them titbits on the hills in the summer so they will come to your hand but they do need to be carefully placed.
“I think we’ve got more people than ponies now, so we’ve been selecting ponies for the individual. We won’t let them go if the home isn’t right for the ponies.
“We’ve re-homed some of the stallions, which is good, and also some mares with foals at foot to people who have already got homes for the foals once they’re old enough.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response, it seems to have just snowballed. We can’t keep up with the phone calls. It’s all worked out so well as we couldn’t just let them go on and on multiplying.
“It’ll be sad to see them go but we will keep some, such as Sandpiper, who is 29 years old and one of the foundation stallions.”
The Nobles are still taking calls from people interested in the ponies (tel: 01456 415300).
The Nobel’s are delighted by the amazing response they received to their appeal and are pleased to let people know that all of their ponies have now found suitable homes.