Strawberry roan pony Barley gallops through a field with a piebald pony and a black pony

Abandoned Barley befriends bereaved horse

Barley provided a lifeline for his new fieldmate...

When native pony Barley was left abandoned in a farmer’s field after the death of his owner, his future looked bleak.

Fast forward to today and the sweet strawberry roan pony has provided a lifeline to his new fieldmate – who had recently lost his lifelong companion.

Barley has befriended 28-year-old Buzz since moving from Blue Cross care to his new home with borrower Holly Gill.

Strawberry roan pony Barley grazes in a field next to bay horse Buzz
Barley has been a lifeline for his new fieldmate Buzz

And the bereaved gelding is growing to love having little Barley around for friendship and horsey interactions.

“I’ve owned Buzz for 20 years so he is very special to me,” explains Holly, who lives in Gloucestershire.

“He is a very friendly chap but can be a little apprehensive about change whether that’s a new water bucket or a new friend!”

Holly started looking for a new companion for 15.1HH Buzz earlier this year when she sadly had to have her 13.2HH Welsh mare Cassie put to sleep.

“Cassie was also 28 when we had to say goodbye - we had her for 20 years too so it was a devastating time for us and for Buzz,” says Holly.

Strawberry roan pony Barley is pictured in a grassy paddock wearing a Blue Cross headcollar
Barley thrived at Blue Cross

“We have taken it really slowly with Barley and Buzz, once they were happy over a fence we put them in the field together.

“I’ve noticed them spending more time standing close to each other and grooming which is lovely to see.”

But it hasn’t been an easy journey for 12.2HH Barley, who arrived in Blue Cross care after he was found abandoned with another pony, 13.2HH skewbald Easton.

Left in a farmer’s field in Somerset, the pair’s case was taken on by local police who got in touch with Blue Cross.

Sadly, although both ponies were microchipped, their original owner had passed away.

Both stallions when they were found, 14-year-old Barley and 13-year-old Easton needed to be gelded to allow our team to put in the training work needed to help them find loving new homes.

Stressed out

“Barley was initially highly aroused and stressed by other horses, he would spend hours pacing the fence line just to be able to see and hear other horses,” explains Horse Rehoming Coordinator Lauren Bush.

“He was reluctant to work with us at the start and wasn’t opposed to trialling aggressive behaviour, understandably as he didn’t seem to be that well-handled.

“Initially we thought Barley may be too tricky to rehome, being a stallion for much of his life.”

Strawberry roan pony Barley stands in a grassy paddock looking towards the camera
Barley had almost a year of Blue Cross training to help him find a new home

Once the ponies were gelded to bring down their testosterone levels, the team at our Burford horse rehoming centre could begin building a bond through gentle training techniques.

Strawberry roan pony Barley looks towards the camera as he stands squarely in a lush green paddock
Barley is a caring companion pony

The team spent almost a year slowly building Barley and Easton’s confidence with regular training.

“Once settled, Barley really thrived off a quiet environment with a competent and sympathetic handler,” adds Lauren.

“He was slowly introduced to other geldings one at a time, before slowly settling in with two youngsters before heading off to his new home.”

Taking things one step at a time meant a new life was possible for Barley – giving him the ability to integrate with other horses, mutually bond and display natural behaviours.

And his journey from stressed stallion to caring companion means the world to new best friend Buzz.

“It’s been rewarding working with Barley and gaining his trust, the first time he let me catch him, or let me put a fly mask on it felt like we had really achieved something,” adds Holly.

“He is still very wary and it’s going to take a lot of time and patience for him to fully trust us, but I’m so glad we’ve given him a chance.”

— Page last updated 19/12/2023