In February 2020 a large-scale multi-agency operation took place to rescue 43 ponies from the north Northamptonshire site. Of the group, 11 were taken in by the Blue Cross, five of whom were pregnant and gave birth last year.
A Blue Cross spokesman said many of the ponies were very thin, covered in lice, and had little experience of being handled. It is understood they had been dumped in the area for unauthorised grazing and the landowner was able to seize the horses with the help of the RSPCA under the Control of Horses Act. The owners could not be identified as the ponies were not microchipped.
“While at Blue Cross, the ponies all needed intensive work to help them get used to humans and being handled, and the team at Rolleston spent every day encouraging the ponies accept human touch,” said the spokesman.
“The ponies were slowly introduced to allowing handlers to put headcollars on them, be groomed and have their feet handled. For some they learnt quickly, but for others it took weeks and even months.”
Most of the group have found new homes including mares Eden and Soar who were rehomed together, with their foals River and Victory. Ribble and Nidd went to a home together in Wales, and foals Bunny and Bumblebee have been rehomed together with the hope they will become riding or driving ponies. Tweed, Bumblebee’s mother, remains under veterinary care, having arrived with severe liver damage.
The spokesman said one particularly nervous pony, Dove, is still undergoing training to have her feet picked up for the farrier and vet checks.
Members of the public had been concerned about the horses’ welfare
‘It is great that all the horses are now returning to full health and will go on to be rehomed’
“She remains so frightened she can only lift one of her feet and her groom is working hard to gain her trust with this in preparation for a home. The team suspect she had previously been handled badly or even abused,” he said.
Blue Cross rehoming coordinator Verity Anderton-Johnson said all the ponies were in “such a sorry state” when they arrived.
“We are used to helping abandoned, nervous ponies but to have so many all at once was another level. It makes us so happy to see them come out of their shell and be able to go to their first real loving homes,” she said.
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