Even when the weather is very bad the moorland ponies usually manage because they have a vast acreage to roam in and are able to find natural shelter. Freedom is what they crave most of all. Their only natural predator is man and at the end of every year the ponies are driven down from the moors and into pens. The little foals who have been suckling their mothers all summer are separated and penned up ready to be sent to market. Often they are not old enough to be weaned and some die. It’s very sad to see these poor little foals taken from one horse sale to another up and down the country.
Usually, however they do get sold and if it’s a private home, their lives take a turn for the better, they are treated by a vet if they are ill and given food and a warm stable. Whilst they are terrified of humans at first, they soon become tame and go on to make lovely ponies for children. The ones that aren’t bought privately are sold for meat. This is by weight on the hoof and it’s a dreadful end for any animal.
Now there are few private buyers around and the price of these foals has plummeted. Practically all are going for meat, the thin and sick ones are being abandoned and tied up and left to die.
This is not because of the credit crunch – the cause is EU legislation which says that all horses over six months of age must be microchipped and have a passport which costs £25.00. So, where in the past, a couple of ponies could be saved with little cost (they usually only fetch a few pounds at the market) – now there is a hefty amount to fork out in order to comply with EU rules. For example, buying ten of these little foals, is likely to incurr costs of over a thousand pounds now we have to do what the EU tell us. Nobody is going to spend this sort of money on tiny foals straight off the moors.
As well as this, there is all the government bureaucracy involved in setting up, maintaining and monitoring this scheme – and the taxpayers have to fork out for this. We managed for hundreds of years without passports and microchips for horses and most of the moorland foals found homes. Now most are slaughtered, some still going ‘on the hook’ overseas. Live transport of horses for slaughter is banned in the UK but loopholes exist.
Please pray for these defenceless little foals who are entirely at the mercy of humans. May they be left in freedom until they are fully weaned. May the legislation regarding microchips and passports be repealed so that the ponies will once again be sold privately. Let’s pray that no horse, pony, donkey or foal is ever sold for meat.