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Pet charity reports big rise in small horses bought on the hoof

Leading pet charity, Blue Cross, says it has seen a massive increase in the number of miniature ponies being bought on the hoof and later being abandoned at its equine centres across the UK.

The charity has reported a massive seven fold increase over the last 10 years* in the number of Shetland type ponies coming through the doors of its rehoming centres.

Like fashionable breeds of popular handbag dogs, Blue Cross believes these small horses are being bought because people think they are easier to look after. But owners don’t realise that these ponies, although little, can be hard to handle and are a big responsibility.

Vicki Alford, Blue Cross horse rehoming manager explains: “This issue is the equine equivalent to the handbag dog trend. Small ponies are very popular with families who want to get their children a pet. But despite their size, Shetlands can be very strong and require as much care and management as any other large horse. When people can’t cope, rescues like Blue Cross are left to pick up the pieces.”

Buttons and Smartie are just two of the 65 Shetland type ponies that Blue Cross took in last year. The 17 year old ponies arrived at the charity’s Burford rehoming centre after being abandoned by their owners. They are now being cared for by the charity team until they are ready to go to new homes.

Vicki Alford adds: “We would urge anyone thinking of getting a horse or pony to give it serious thought and, like any pet, do lots of research before making a commitment. There are lots of horses in rescue centres, so please do pay Blue Cross a visit if you think you can help a horse in need.”

Blue Cross rehomes over 8,000 pets every year and receives no government funding. To find out more about Blue Cross and to give a pet a home, visit

Notes to editors
• Interviews available upon request
• *In 2003 Blue Cross took in eight Shetland ponies, compared to 65 in 2013.
• Blue Cross has been dedicated to helping poorly, injured and abandoned pets for over 100 years. We opened the world’s first animal hospital in 1906 and since then our doors have never closed to sick and homeless animals.
• Today we run four animal hospitals and 12 rehoming centres across the UK, which provide treatment and seek happy homes for thousands of cats, dogs, small pets and horses every year.
• Blue Cross actively campaigns to improve all aspects of animal welfare, working with the government, schools and others to improve the lives of pets and their owners. For more information, please visit

Media contact

Lisa Graham, Media Officer, 020 79324063, 07860 519716, [email protected]