HorseWorld and RSPCA reunite stolen pony with ‘overjoyed’ owner

Maisey with owner, Alison Wood

Collaboration between equine welfare charity HorseWorld and RSPCA sees little Maisey returned home after she went missing 8 months ago.

The 16-year-old pony was taken from her home in Wiltshire in July 2023. Her distraught owners launched desperate calls for help to find her on social media and numerous appeals across the press, and despite a number of alleged sightings, the little pony seemed lost forever.

Maisey’s owners were almost ready to fear the worst; but the tale took a dramatic turn this week when RSPCA Inspectors responded to welfare concerns about a group of horses in Avonmouth, and made a call to Bristol-based charity HorseWorld asking for their assistance with one particular pony in very poor condition.

HorseWorld Head of Welfare, Sarah Hollister said “We were asked if we could collect a severely underweight Shetland pony which had been abandoned near Avonmouth. We were already at capacity, with other rescues having been taken in just a few days before, but we knew we had to help.”

The HorseWorld Welfare team arrived to find the mare in a shocking state. Her winter coat was very fluffy but with further inspection, under the layer of winter coat, it was clear the mare was severely malnourished and emaciated, covered in lice and could be pregnant. The RSPCA arranged for an equine vet to attend the site to examine Maisey prior to being transported to ensure she was fit to travel.

The pony was rushed to the safety of HorseWorld where she was carefully settled into their emergency care unit and given the immediate life-saving treatment by the Equine Welfare and veterinary team. The staff at HorseWorld began to think of a name for the sweet, friendly pony; it seemed her destiny was to become one of the long-term rescued residents at HorseWorld.

However, RSPCA Inspector Dan Hatfield processed the data from the equine’s microchip, it became apparent that she had in fact been reported by the registered owners on the chip as stolen.

Petra Ingram, HorseWorld Chief Executive said “Maisey has quite distinctive markings and as I was looking over photographs of the rescue, they triggered a memory of something I had seen on social media. With a little more delving it quickly transpired that HorseWorld had shared a Facebook post about Maisey’s theft back in July 2023. We immediately telephoned colleagues at the RSPCA and shared the amazing news that we believed we had identified not only the pony, but where she had originally come from too!”

L to R: PC Natalie Cosgrove, Maisey’s owner Allison Wood, RSPCA Inspector Dan Hatfield, HorseWorld Equine Welfare Operations Manager Verity Barker, RSPCA Inspector Kim Walters, PC Jess Swanborough. Front: HorseWorld Head of Equine Welfare Sarah Hollister

RSPCA Inspector Dan Hatfield said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to be a part of Maisey’s story bringing her back home so many months after she was stolen, devastating her owners. When we rescued her in such a sorry state last week, we had no idea that she would turn out to be a much-loved, missing pet. This is a fantastic example of how vital it is that we microchip our pets - without this, Maisey may never have found her way back home to her owners, and I am so happy to witness them being reunited today. It was a special moment for us all.”

Maisey and owner Allison Wood were reunited on Wednesday 6th March. Alison said: “It feels unreal to have Maisey home. When Dan phoned I just burst out crying; I didn’t say anything! I’ve had people in the village crying when I’ve told them. Holly, her field mate, will be over the moon. But without the microchip, and the amazing work of everyone involved, we would have never got her back.”

You can watch Maisey's heartwarming story in the short video below.