A multi-agency operation to round up, assess and rescue horses on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall has seen more than 20 animals rehomed due to growing concerns for their welfare.
The one-day operation saw organisations assist the Bodmin Moor Commons Council in an effort to tackle the escalating problem of ill and suffering ponies on sections of the moor – a situation exacerbated by a wet winter.
A group of 34 horses were rounded up from East Moor to be assessed by Redwings Horse Sanctuary head of welfare and behaviour Nic de Brauwere and APHA veterinary officer Lorna Stevenson – 22 of which were of sufficient concern to be removed from the moor and rehomed with rescue and welfare organisations. Another pony suffering from a disfigured foot was euthanised.
The remainder of the group were judged to be healthy and released back on to the moor, but will be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Dr de Brauwere, who has supported welfare work on the moor for many years, said: “It is clear there is a big challenge in bringing about long-term improvements for the management of ponies on Bodmin Moor.
“The moor has the potential for native ponies to thrive, 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 of Bodmin Moor is for them to have a natural life, but also to be familiarised with people so they can be supported with veterinary and routine health care when required.
“We also believe the balance of stallions and mares needs to be urgently addressed on the moor.
“This vision can only become a reality with the cooperation of everyone with rights to graze their ponies on the moor, and this is why we fully support the newly established Bodmin Moor Commons Council and its development of management plans that work for the commoners, land and animals.”
The council was established in September 2015 to provide a “democratic management structure for the 71 commons registration units on Bodmin Moor”, part of which includes improving the welfare of the stock on the common, while ensuring the moor is not seen as an area for abandoning or fly-grazing horses.
Other organisations involved in the operation included the RSPCA, the APHA, World Horse Welfare, local rescue organisation Shires Holt, local landowners and police.
Of the operation, Ms Stevenson said: “I would like to thank all involved for their support and hard work in making this complex and challenging operation a success.
“Since 7 April, Julie Dowton of Bodmin Moor Commons Council and Pip Lovelock from Shires Holt have been on the moors daily and have identified more ponies in three locations that require removal and rehoming, and APHA will be accompanying them on further visits this week.”