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Relief as stolen one-eyed Shetland pony found in graveyard

A one-eyed Shetland pony has been found tied up in a graveyard more than a week after he was stolen from his field, after a widespread public appeal.

Basil, a Blue Cross rescue pony, was stolen from his borrower Ali Bluck’s home in Gloucestershire on 21 May. Following a campaign to bring the gelding home he was discovered by a dog walker in a graveyard in Winterbourne, Bristol, around a 30-minute drive away.

Ali told H&H Basil was taken from the paddock he shares with her other gelding Pio in a 10-minute window.

“I left, drove past the paddock and saw them both, then got a phone call 10 minutes later from my partner Jeremy to say Basil had been stolen,” she said. “Jeremy heard Pio whinnying hysterically, went outside to check on them and Basil was gone.

“Whoever took him was organised and knew what they had to do. They went through three gates to get to him, and they were closed again behind them. There were signs of a struggle with scuff marks on the ground and when the police visited they found what appeared to be a handle from a transit van and a box of gloves.”

Ali said her “world fell apart” while Basil was gone.

“It was utterly horrendous. To have anything or anyone go missing is awful – it’s the not knowing if they are being taken care of,” she said.

“It was so hot and I was thinking things like was he being given water. You just don’t know what’s happening to them. Basil has separation anxiety and he must have been terrified and missing Pio.”

After Basil was stolen the Blue Cross asked the public to make him “too hot to handle”.

“The Blue Cross were absolutely fantastic. I had several phone calls a day with them, I’d have been lost without their support – they kept me going and told me ‘we’re going to get this out there and get him home’,” said Ali.

“The public, media and other charities were sharing Basil’s story far and wide. Even Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den shared his story. All the support gave me hope that someone might spot him.”

Ali received a call from a member of the public on Sunday morning to say Basil had been found by a dog walker.

“I was told he had been discovered tied to a tree and had a halter wrapped round his head a few times because it was too big. Within minutes of the walker finding him, other people in the area went to help and they knew it was Basil after seeing his story online. Someone took him to a nearby yard for me to collect him,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe he’d been found. I was so relieved, when I got to him I hugged him and sobbed. The people said he had been quite skittish but he just put his head on my legs and knew it was me.”

Basil was taken home and checked by a vet and found to have a minor eye infection and a sore on his face from the halter. The gelding was hungry and dehydrated but had not suffered any other injuries.

“On Sunday evening he was quite bewildered and tired but by Monday he was back in his routine and frisking me for carrots,” said Ali.

“People have been so kind, it’s restored my faith in humanity. I received so many messages of support from strangers. I can’t thank people enough for sharing his story – every single share is what got him home. There are some bad people in the world, but the good people outnumber them by a million.”

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A spokesman for the Blue Cross told H&H the charity had been “overwhelmed” by the support for Basil.

“We would like to thank the public, the police and our fellow equine charities for all their incredible support and help in getting Basil home,” she said.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said no arrests have been made but enquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident 479 of 21 May.

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