Three ponies who had to be trapped in a town’s tennis courts just before New Year 2018 after running loose in the local park are now in the care of the RSPCA.
The young ponies had been spotted loose several times between Christmas Eve and 29 December by local people around the Bishop Auckland area, but each time the RSPCA and the British Horse Society (BHS) were called, the ponies evaded capture and vanished, much to the frustration of the welfare officers.
Eventually, quick-thinking locals saw the colts trudging through the deep snow in a park in Princes Street and were able to tempt them inside the local tennis courts with hay, where they safely closed the doors to confine them before calling the RSPCA.
After a British Horse Society Welfare Officer supplied hay, water and a padlock and chain for the gate, the ponies were secure for the night so arrangements could be made to transport them safely through the thick snow, to a nearby boarding stable for expert care.
RSPCA equine rehoming officer Jacqui Wilson is now appealing for new homes for the three ponies - nicknamed after top tennis stars Andre (Agassi), Pancho (Gonzales) and Rafael (Nadal).
Jacqui said: “The 'Tennis Court Trio' may have evaded capture for a while, but thanks to a great joint effort between local people, the British Horse Society and ourselves at the RSPCA, they were safely captured.
“Now three weeks on, they are lovely, friendly young colts who have a great future ahead of them, so it’s very sad to think their previous owners thought it was okay to just let them loose when they decided they didn’t have any use for them. Anything could have happened to them or to the public had they been left to roam freely for much longer.
She added: “No owner has come forward to claim Andre, Pancho and Rafael. Unfortunately, foals like these are irresponsibly bred in the area and have little or no value.
“We did have some reports that a man was seen before Christmas, chasing them out of a lorry near the town's rugby club, so if anyone with any more information about this can call our inspector’s appeal line number on 0300 123 8018.”
BHS Regional Manager Wendy Suddes said "We are very fortunate indeed that members of the public cared enough to act - and that the RSPCA were in a position to offer these poor foals respite.
"We would encourage everyone touched by this story, to donate whatever small amount they possibly can, to help secure a future for these poor little boys."
Anyone who would like to offer Andre, Pancho and Rafael a home should visit the RSPCA’s website for more details.
Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.