A pony and a donkey are raising money for their fellow equines with a charity walk.
Miniature Shetland pony Scotch, and Barley the donkey, will take their owners on the 100-mile trek to raise money for the RSPCA’s Felledge Equine Centre in County Durham.
The seven day ‘Funamble’ around East Anglia began yesterday at Needham Market and ends at the Equifest show at the Peterborough Showground on Thursday.
The pair and their owners, Tiggy Bays-Griffiths and Chelsey Bailey, will finally parade around the show arena before having a well-earned rest.
The RSPCA is struggling to cope with the numbers of horses needing its help - with 700 already in its care - and Tiggy was inspired to undertake the challenge after she rehomed Scotch from RSPCA Felledge in Chester-le-Street in 2012.
Scotch was one of 15 ponies found dumped by a railway line between Scunthorpe and Doncaster. One of the ponies was killed by a train and another two had to be put to sleep because their injuries were so debilitating.
Tiggy heard about Scotch from an RSPCA inspector who knew that she had been looking for a very special skewbald miniature Shetland to join her carriage driving team.
Tiggy said: “I had to give up riding in 2005 after a riding accident and then got involved with driving miniature Shetlands.
“I looked high and low for the right pony and Scotch was just right.
“I was so impressed with how Scotch had been cared for and how helpful the Felledge Equine Centre staff were that I just wanted to do something to help the RSPCA rehome more horses and to raise awareness of the scale of the horse crisis being faced by the country.”
Both owners sought veterinary advice before embarking on their trekking training, and full vet checks will be carried out during the challenge.
Tiggy added: “We have spoken to the Endurance Society for advice on a training plan and the Donkey Sanctuary agree that this promotes the message of exercise being important for donkey health.
“We also have two back up animals, just in case Barley or Scotch aren’t quite up to the trek.”
It is hoped that Barley and Scotch will be accompanied into the Equifest arena by other rescue ponies.
The RSPCA and other equine welfare charities estimate that about 6,500 horses are at risk across England and Wales due to rising feed prices and a market in which horses can be sold for as little as £5. Most of these are fly grazed or even abandoned.
To support the Funamble, visit http://choices.rspca.org.uk/felledge-funamble or text ‘RSPCA1’ followed by £3 to 70111 (texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message).