The owner of a pony who was stolen on Sunday and found dead, tied to a tree in a town centre, the next morning is fighting to bring those responsible to justice.
Lea Drakefield said her 11.2hh Welsh section A Phoenix, who had been on loan to a nine-year-old girl, was “loved by everyone”.
Lea told H&H the 10-year-old gelding was stolen from his yard in Standish, Wigan, on Sunday night and walked five miles into Wigan town centre in the dark.
“A woman on a bike found him on Monday morning, tied to a tree, dead,” Lea said.
“They’d tied him in such a way that the more he panicked and pulled, the tighter the rope got, so he strangled himself.
“He wasn’t a pony who would have been scared or silly; I don’t know if they taunted him or scared him to make him react, and I don’t know what they’ve done to him.
“There was a big football field, they could have left him in there but they tied him to a tree; it’s like they set out intentionally to hurt him.”
Lea said the pony’s loaners had been told of people looking around the yard on Saturday (9 February).
She has since been told that a number of members of the public saw teenage boys leading Phoenix into Wigan the following evening.
“They’d taken a lead rope with them – they’d gone to take a horse – and they wrapped it round his head and took him, still in his stable rug, which he was wearing when he was found,” Lea said.
“He went willingly with them – that shows you what a lovely, trusting pony he was; they led him five miles into town with just a rope round his head. He was the sweetest pony on God’s earth and he didn’t deserve this.
“He taught so many children to ride, and if it’s heartbreaking for me, it’s even harder for the girl who had him on loan because he was her world. She had him one day and he was taken away the next.”
Police have been investigating and Lea said evidence including footage from CCTV and mobile phones is being gathered, which she hopes will lead to those responsible.
“If these kids are capable of doing this now, to a pony, what are they going to do next?” she asked. “If they get away with this, they’ll keep stepping it up.
Take advance of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
“That’s why I’m calling for anyone and everyone who might have seen them to come forward.
“He was the best pony ever and he deserves justice. He was loved unconditionally by everyone, and it would be doing the wrong thing, not fighting for justice.
“If it happened again, I’d be devastated, and if they can do it once, they can do it again.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Greater Manchester Police on 101, quoting crime reference 350 of 11/02/2019.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.