Pony char­ity backed by Duchess dumps auc­tion over cru­elty

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By El­liott Kime

A CHAR­ITY sup­ported by the Duchess of Corn­wall that aims to pro­mote Shet­land ponies has with­drawn its as­so­ci­a­tion with one of Bri­tain’s largest pony auc­tions after an an­i­mal was al­legedly kicked by trav­ellers.

The Shet­land Pony Stud-Book So­ci­ety said “un­prece­dented” wel­fare con­cerns ex­pressed by its mem­bers had led to a de­ci­sion to end its 50-year af­fil­i­a­tion with Read­ing-based Thim­bleby & Shor­land auc­tion house.

The sev­er­ance was unan­i­mously agreed by the char­ity’s 14-mem­ber coun­cil in the wake of an al­leged in­ci­dent in which a foal was abused by trav­ellers at a sale on Oct 30.

One coun­cil mem­ber told The Sun­day Tele­graph she was left “in tears” after a pony was at­tacked shortly after a child was thrust on its back, caus­ing it to col­lapse and sub­se­quently kick out.

The wit­ness, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said: “A 10-year-old boy was chucked on the back of a foal by his fa­ther, and it went right back on its legs. The pony just splat­tered and it kicked out, so they kicked it and I just stood there, next to our pres­i­dent, in tears. No­body has the right to do that to them.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like it. Usu­ally peo­ple put very small chil­dren on them, but this man just threw his son on.” Thames Val­ley Po­lice said it was not called to the auc­tion house. Jill Jones, the so­ci­ety’s pres­i­dent, said com­plaints from mem­bers about trav­ellers had reached an “un­prece­dented” level. She said: “We have to make a de­ci­sion whether to ig­nore it and we can’t, we are a char­ity.”

Speak­ing to Horse & Hound, Ms Jones added she did not blame the auc­tion house. She said: “The auc­tion­eers are in the ring work­ing hard to get the best prices for the ponies and they can’t of­ten be out­side to see what goes on. There is a dis­tinct lack of su­pervi- sion as well as a con­tin­gent of peo­ple who can­not be con­trolled.”

How­ever, an­other coun­cil mem­ber in­sisted trav­ellers were not com­pletely at fault. He said: “Trav­ellers are ex­perts at look­ing after horses.

“It is a part of their cul­ture with a long his­tory and they pro­vide ex­cel­lent care, but one small in­ci­dent oc­curred and I would not want to tar­nish every­one with the same brush.”

Chris Bore­ham, di­rec­tor of Thim­bleby & Shor­land, said he had not wit­nessed the in­ci­dent but said the auc­tion house “will take mea­sures to en­sure they don’t hap­pen in the fu­ture”.

The Duchess of Corn­wall is a high-pro­file sup­porter of the Shet­land Pony Stud-Book So­ci­ety

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