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A CHARITY supported by the Duchess of Cornwall that aims to promote Shetland ponies has withdrawn its association with one of Britain’s largest pony auctions after an animal was allegedly kicked by travellers.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