A horse rescue charity has been left fearing for its ponies’ safety after motorbikes were driven through its fencing to access fields.
Four Shetland ponies at Cecil’s Horse Sanctuary — two of whom have health conditions — were found to be missing on Wednesday (18 September) and later discovered on neighbouring land in an agitated state.
“We couldn’t believe it. The electric had been on full pelt, so they must have deliberately ridden the bikes through it. They had also gone through the fencing on the opposite side of the paddock,” said the charity’s founder Julie Blake.
“We were told when we moved on to the land that there were some problems in the area but you have to cross 20 acres of field just to get to the ponies’ paddock, so we thought it would be fine.”
One of the ponies in the field is an elderly Shetland called Pimpernel, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Another, his daughter, has a badly locking stifle.
“I have had Pimp for 11 years and he had been in a field where there isn’t a lot of grass and they were mostly fed hay, which had been aggravating his breathing. We decided to try and move him to this new field, even though we were worried he might not survive the 10-minute trip,” Julie said.
“Fortunately he was fine when we moved him, within a week his medicine had been reduced and then we’d taken him off it altogether. He’s been very ill though and if he runs he’s on his knees, so he was in a worrying state when we found him.
“The little mare who is his daughter was also very stressed out, all the Shetlands were. One of the other mares was brought to the rescue after being found pregnant on the road and her companion was hit by a car. You take a horse out of that situation to make things better and then put it in one where there is a motorbike being driven round it, it’s awful.”
Julie said that as a small charity, Cecil’s exists on a hand-to-mouth basis and funds raised are usually spent straight away on what is needed.
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“We managed to raise the money to go on this bit of land and fence it. We wanted to set it up properly and although we couldn’t afford post and rail we used brand new electric fencing and concreted all the gate posts in. We had volunteers down there at 11pm trying to get it finished,” she said.
“Everybody here is a volunteer and they all have full-time jobs, so they will all be working late trying to get this fixed on top of caring for 70 horses,” she added.
Julie said that she had tried to secure the field in Theobald St, Borehamwood, Herts, with more fencing and warning signs.
“Tonight we will be putting extra posts in and we have one volunteer who works nights who will be going down to make regular checks. I just hope it puts an end to it.”
The trouble is not the first to affect the sanctuary, whose main base is in Elstree and has been victim to several break-ins.
“Every time someone made a donation we put a thank you on our Facebook page and then we realised that whoever was stealing from us was keeping an eye on the page. They even nicked our branded t-shirts, which wouldn’t be any use to anyone who didn’t work here,” she said.
“I just can’t imagine what kind of people would do this or have in their mind that this is OK.”
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