‘I’m overwhelmed’: Spencer Wilton’s missing birthday filly found after social media appeal

  • Olympic dressage rider Spencer Wilton has praised the power of social media after more than 1,600 people shared his post about his missing filly – who has since been found safe and well.

    It was found that yearling Giselle Grande, known as Elle, was missing from her field at Spencer’s husband Darren’s parents’ yard in Somerset early this morning (11 February).

    Spencer Wilton told H&H that Elle, by Grand Design out of a Ferro mare, was bought for him by Darren as a surprise present to celebrate his 49th birthday, on 1 February. The couple had recently collected her from Berkshire-based owner Nicole Nelson and moved to her Darren’s parents, Steve and Linda Hicks.

    Spencer Wilton

    “When Darren’s parents went to check the horses they found Elle was missing. There was no trace of where she’d gone or what had happened so we called the police and thought the worst,” he said.

    “Eventually they found a hole in a hedge but it was outside her field. They saw some small hoof prints and followed them and she was found six fields away from where she was meant to be. We’re still not 100% sure about how it happened. We can’t work out why a yearling would leave other horses and get herself out of the field, then through a hole – so we’re not ruling out foul play. But she’s absolutely fine, and obviously made of tough stuff.”

    Spencer said Elle, who has been named after supermodel Elle McPherson – in keeping with a supermodel theme owing to the Giselle in her passport name, is a “very sweet” filly.

    “Darren went to view some foals at Nicole’s last year and Elle stood out to him and the deal was done without me knowing anything about it. He kept it a secret then on my birthday he said ‘I’ve got you this surprise’ and we went and picked her up. I absolutely adore her,” he said.

    Spencer Wilton

    Elle pictured last year as a foal

    Spencer added that when he took the call to say she was missing he was “heartbroken” and completely “panic-stricken”. He put a post on Facebook, which was shared 1,600 times.

    “She had only been there for a few days, and prior to that had just left all her friends and I just thought she’s on her own and traumatised. Anybody that owns or has had horses will understand, it was just a horrible situation to be in when you don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” he said,

    “Facebook gets an awful lot of negative publicity and there’s not always a lot of positive stuff that comes out of it, but I have to say I’m overwhelmed by the amount of shares. I’m really grateful to everyone that took the time to share the post. It could have been a much worse outcome than it was.”

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