Horses, Ponies & Donkeys

We have a few permanent resident horses, ponies and donkeys on site who will stay here for the rest of their lives as they have medical issues which makes it very difficult to rehome them.  We still love them and aim to keep them as naturally and comfortably as possible.

Our horses live in herds and spend the majority of their days out in the fields.  If they need to be inside they remain in their social groups so that they do not become stressed.  The retired equines are pretty much free to do as they please which is probably what we all hope for at the end of our working days.

If you are visiting you may see our little ‘mini herd’ who cope better when we are busy with visitors.  The Sanctuary can get quite lively, particularly during school holidays, which some of the other horses do not enjoy, so much so they spend most of the Summer out in the further fields where it remains peaceful. This also enables us to rest their Winter pasture and rotate the other grazing stock around.

Sometimes the ponies will be inside if the vet or farrier is here or if we are doing some training work in a quieter area.

Horses can live into their 30’s and like all of us do develop age-related health problems that need looking after.  Sometimes they might be a bit creakier and need regular medication and some extra TLC.

Our Shetland Ponies

Solo is a Miniature Shetland who came to us when his owner was overstocked and she didn’t have time for a youngster.  He was born in 2008. He is a whole 30 inches tall! His colour is actually Palomino not grey which people often think he is (or brown when he has had a good roll in the mud!).  He is a bit of a prima-donna and thinks everyone is here to see him.  He is a super cute, cheeky little pony.

Wotsit is Solo’s buddy.  He is also a miniature Shetland, born in 2011.  He came to us on his way to be put to sleep as he was so naughty.  It turns out that Wotsit is partially sighted with congenital cataracts so now he has Solo to hang around with, he is no problem at all.  Wotsit also has IBS so we have to be extremely careful what he eats (this is one of the reasons for all the ‘please do not feed the animals’ signs on site).  He would quite happily eat pretty much anything he was offered, unfortunately this makes him really ill.   Wotsit and Solo have regular workouts either in the school or out and about on the Sanctuary to help keep those tummies under control.


Isabella was hand reared in a house which confused her somewhat.  She is a beautiful girl but can be tricky to handle.  She does not enjoy being touched, groomed or generally having anything done with her.  She does love kisses on her nose though and is really sweet about it.  She will come up to say hello but doesn’t really want to be touched.  Even if Isabella is objecting to being handled she always does her best to try not to hurt you.  If you’re visiting at tea time in the Winter you may well hear her braying for her food!  You can hear her across most of the Sanctuary!

Our older equine residents

Pogo and Gabi are two elderly ladies enjoying their retirement together.  They were both born around 1992.  Gabi came in to retire as her owners moved abroad and felt it wasn’t fair to travel her due to a knee injury she has.  She seems perfectly content with her retirement plan!  She is a real lady until there is a suitably swampy mud puddle available to roll in!!

Pogo was neglected quite badly when she was no longer able to be ridden due to some arthritis so she has come to spend the rest of her days with us.  She has a wonderful personality, she likes to bang her stable door in the Winter if her Breakfast isn’t arriving quickly enough, she also rather likes to gently pull her handler around by their coat if they are not paying attention!

Gordon is a Hanoverian x Thoroughbred gelding.  DOB 2009 so not an oldie! He was abandoned during the Winter which left him in rather a sorry state.  His owner left the country without telling anyone about Gordon, he was left in a field for months with no food or shelter.  Poor Gordon has some anxiety issues and many behaviours associated with that so he will stay with us for the rest of his life.  The way our horses are managed is ideal for a horse like Gordon, he runs with a herd in plenty of space, they have access to a big run-in barn which they are free to come and go from as they choose.  Constant access to forage, which is a  must for Gordon as he has suffered with stomach ulcers.  Despite all this, Gordon is always the first to come and greet us, he is lacking in awareness of personal space or body language so can get closer than we might like!  He also has difficulty reading the body language of other horses so he can get himself into trouble from time to time!

Oliver is a Thoroughbred gelding, he was originally destined for a career in racing however, he has kissing spines so is unable to be ridden at all.  He has been at the Sanctuary since he was four years old (His DOB is 1993!).  Oliver was lucky enough to get a place here at the Sanctuary rather than be put to sleep.  He has never done a day’s work in his life and been able to spend some 20+ years just being a horse!  He has never been confined to a stable and would find the experience highly stressful so he spends his life free to come and go as he pleases.  He is a real goofball, Ollie loves to pick things up in his mouth ie a coat or sweater which may be in his eyeline, and wander off with it.

Can you help our resident animals?

At Ferne we have over three-hundred resident animals which need life-long care.

Your sponsorship means we can feed, look after and provide further enrichment for our much-loved residents.

Sponsor an animal today