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A group of 34 ponies horses have been rounded up from Eastmoor on Bodmin Moor, as part of a welfare initiative.

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While some owners have the right to graze their ponies on the Moor, the area can attract so-called ‘fly grazers’. The vast space of Bodmin Moor can be isolated and exposed, and during winter conditions become far from ideal.

After a long and particularly wet winter, a number of moor-dwelling ponies have struggled to survive. In response to this, a new Bodmin Moor Commons Council led an initiative to save those most at risk.

Charities including Redwings, the RSPCA, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), World Horse Welfare, along with local rescue organisation Shires Holt, local landowners and the policejoined forces to round-up the horses.

Assessment

A total of 34 neglected ponies were assessed on 7April, with Redwings Horse Sanctuary helping to rehome those most in need. In the end, 22 ponies were rehomed and the remaining horses – whose health was deemed satisfactory – were released back onto the moor.

The ponies that were removed were then rehomed at local shelters, including Shires Holt and the welfare charity Bransby Horses. One horse was sadly euthanised due to having a severely disfigured foot.

Potential to thrive

With the constant fear of more animals being abandoned, The Bodmin Moor Commons Council continues to identify more horses that could require treatment or rehoming.

“The Moor has the potential for native ponies to thrive,” said Redwings’ Head of Welfare and Behaviour, Nic de Brauwere. “But these animals will always need human support – whether that be to compensate for limited grazing as a result of severe weather, ensure parasite and infectious disease control, or attending to unexpected problems such as injury or illness.

“Indeed, our hope for the future of the ponies ofBodminMoor is for them to have a natural life, but also to be familiarised with people so they can be supported with veterinary and routine healthcare when required. We also believe the balance of stallions and mares needs to be urgently addressed on the Moor.”

Fly grazing

One of the main challenges faced by the council is identifying those owners with the rights to graze ponies on Bodmin Moor.

“It is a UK-wide problem that despite passport and microchipping legislation, equine identification is not being enforced rendering it near impossible to bring irresponsible owners to account,” added Nic. “BodminMoor should not be seen as an area for abandoning or fly-grazing horses, and owners who allow their horses to fall into the terrible state of neglect that we have seen as a charity first-hand and as recently reported should face the consequences under the Animal Welfare Act.”

Redwings have been helping the ponies of Bodmin Moor for more than five years. In 2011, they rescued and rehomed 19 severely neglected horses, and last year they assisted in the rescue and care of three horses found at a filming location for BBC series, Poldark.