A pair of pink sunglasses with one lens missing. A can of Carlsberg. A handbrake, a torn off bumper and a jagged rusting paint tin. These are just a few of the things which lace the pasture of the horses we filmed today living in a world far removed from ‘My little pony’.
Neglect and abandonment of horses has shot up steeply in the last few years and we’ve been to Teeside where the problem is so acute the police are heavily involved. On patrol with the local PC, we saw foals on the loose, tethered horses living in a perfect circle of mud having eaten all the grass they could reach and porch dwelling ponies. And not just a handful: round every corner was another shot which didn’t come from the manual of equine husbandry. The policeman compared the phenomenon to tough looking dogs saying ‘big’ men now want a ‘status stallion’. But some help was on hand in the form of a mobile clinic set up by the British Horse Society. Their offer of castration and identification – snip and chip – enticed a line of lucky ponies and generally hard up but well intentioned owners.
Still, the council estate beside the urban dual carriageway didn’t look like the ideal horse habitat but maybe that’s elitist and the ‘noble steed’ shouldn’t only be the plaything of the rich. If you can’t afford rolling paddocks alongside classy livery perhaps love, time and scrubland can give a horse a good home. See what you think.
CountryFile Sunday evening 13 May BBC 1