The story of three ponies rescued at Gelligaer common in South Wales last year is being shared by Redwings Horse Sanctuary this week, following World Bee Day on Monday (20 May).

The part bred Welsh ponies – in foal mare Bumble, her foal at foot Honey and orphaned companion Mason – were removed from the common on 14 February last year after concerns were raised for their welfare. They were named in honour of Saint Valentine who is The Patron Saint of beekeepers and animal lovers. New arrival Bee arrived a few months later, last May.

The joint operation involved Redwings, RSPCA Cymru, Caerphilly County Borough Council and World Horse Welfare.

Honey having a blood test at the common with dam, Bumble

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“I personally have been working with ponies on the common, in my role here at Redwings, for more than 20 years,” said Nic de Brauwere, Redwings Head of Welfare and Behaviour.

“We work with the Gelligaeer and Merthyr commoners – landowners with rights to graze ponies on the commons – the local council and other charities to tackle issues that arise from abandoned and unclaimed ponies in the area, and indiscriminate breeding causing the population to outstrip what the land can sustain.

“We agreed to offer a forever home to this trio, if necessary, and worked with our colleagues to catch and assess them and provide the veterinary care they needed.

Mason in a pen at the common

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“Bumble was very underweight as well as being in foal, and her daughter Honey was lame. Orphan Mason, who was around the same age as Honey at just three months, was in a very poor state – emaciated and struggling to survive life on the common without his own mother. All three were suffering but also very frightened of humans, so they needed our intervention and the specialised care Redwings can give such ponies.

“After careful consideration every step of the way, it was decided that their fearful behaviour and complex veterinary needs meant the journey to Norfolk was the best way to ensure they would receive the care they needed from people experienced in working with such frightened ponies.”

On arrival at Redwings, Mason was so weak he had to be helped off the horsebox and given round-the-clock care. Tests confirmed he had a heavy worm burden, and his intestinal wall was damaged. He required lifesaving plasma transfusions and dewormers, with supportive intensive care.

Mason required a blood transfusion

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After months of concern that he might never recover, he finally showed enough improvement that his carers were able to find him a companion and give him the chance to live like a normal young pony. He’s now living with another youngster, Redwings’ Barney.

Bumble, Honey and Bee – who is now a year old – are out on grass together in their family group at one of Redwings’ closed sanctuary sites in Norfolk.

“Their journey has not been an easy one,” Nic said. “They have needed a lot of veterinary care and support but, a year on, we’re far less worried about them than we were.

Bee and Bumble at Redwings

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“Thanks to our brilliant staff and generous supporters, whose donations allow us to do this work, all four of our Bees are living happy lives in sanctuary care.”

Since 2003 Redwings has offered a home to over 700 horses from rescues across Wales, including ponies from Gelligaer and Llangynidr commons. If you would like to make a donation to help Redwings continue to help ponies like Bumble, Honey, Bee and Mason, click here.

The charity is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. To find out more about their work over the past four decades and get involved in the events that are taking place to celebrate, click here.

New friends Barney and Mason at Redwings

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Further reading