WEDNESDAY, MAR. 9: Trixie is a fit and healthy bay pony that is a little too small to race competitively.
So at the age of three, this fine filly was deemed “not fit for purpose” and her owner tried to give her away for free on eMoo.
“Disposable” ponies swapping hands is not a new phenomenon in an industry that is largely unregulated. But advertising an animal for free on eMoo sparked the SPCA into action.
The animal charity took in Trixie late last year and has been caring for her ever since.
Director Kim Sherlaw told the Bermuda Sun the unchecked exchange of ponies is a major concern.
Many are falling into the hands of people who lack the knowledge and experience to look after them. She said: “These animals are viewed as disposable — some pony breeders feel they will experience too much public scrutiny if they euthanize ponies who are not suitable for racing [because] perhaps they are either too small or don’t have the drive to race.
“They have stated that they have found it easier to sell, swap or give them away. The SPCA believes not all ponies exchanging hands are being mistreated but a significant number are. This is an unregulated industry.
“Many of the ponies we are called out to look at live in substandard and unsanitary living conditions.
“This can either be in makeshift stables, trash and debris, posing safety risks in enclosures. Animal enclosures resemble junkyards and shantytowns.
“Many of the people who take possession of the animals have a poor knowledge of basic horse care such as feeding, hoof and dental maintenance, vaccinations, worming, brushing, exercise, preventable conditions.
“We have also seen a noticeable failure to provide proper veterinary care due to costs in some cases.”
Debbie Masters, SPCA field investigator, said Trixie’s future is uncertain but the charity is keen to find her a new and caring home.
She added: “The ponies become disposable if they are no good for racing.
“This has been going on for a while.
“People give them away and there are no checks on who takes possession of these animals and whether they are responsible owners.
“Trixie is symbolic of the problems the industry has — there are dozens of ponies like her. It is a big concern and it seems no one is accountable.”
Mrs. Masters believes the industry needs to be better regulated.
She added: “The people who have these need to be more responsible for them and for who they give them to. The sport [racing] should be regulated and horses should be licensed in the same way as dogs.
“That way you can keep on top of who owns the ponies and keep better tabs on them.”
Michael Rodriques, president of the Driving Horses and Pony Club, told the Bermuda Sun that new legislation could make a difference.
He said: “We do not have any jurisdiction about what people do with their horses.
“We have very strict guidelines to ensure horses that race are fit and well but we don’t really have any say in what goes on outside the race track.
“If changes to the way horses were sold were to come in the form of legislation, that could help.”