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24 January 2021 | 0 Comments

The Introduction for Dolly and Cherry’s stories are the same. Click here to skip the intro and jump to Dolly’s story here further down this page or to read about Cherry click here (opens in a new tab)

Introduction… A dozen phone calls a day, two horses tied up at the side of a busy road, muddy and being rained on.

2014 saw many call outs relating to horses that were tethered at the roadside and fly-grazing. Dolly and Cherry were the ‘Warndon mares’ tied up at the side of the road not far from Junction 6. Penny Ha’Penny visited the horses every night to feed and provide water while talking to the owners to try and convince them to hand the horses over. The problem being Penny Ha’Penny Horse & Pony Rescue couldn’t just steal the horses from the road, as sad as they looked, tempting as it was and despite many demands from the public. What about the other horses in the rescue if we were caught stealing? Tethering a horse is not illegal, and at the time neither was fly-grazing. A change in the law around the same time meant the council were able to have the horses seized by bailiffs, they were gone from the road and the public happy. Out of sight out of mind. Nobody knew what had come of them, nobody seemed to care. 

Penny Ha’Penny kept track of the horses and in touch with the Council and the Bailiffs. When it became obvious the horse’s fate was sealed, the owner refusing to pay the fine for their return and no homes for them to go to. Penny Ha’Penny stepped in to save them from certain death.

The horses were delivered to the rescue and now in better condition than they had been but with severe behavioural issues.


Dolly, unfortunately had become quite aggressive around food so we needed to teach her food would always be there and teach her that aggression was not the right way to get food. Cherry was very good at preventing some of Dolly’s poor behaviour and would even walk into her then gently push Dolly away if she was getting too boisterous.

We worked with the two of them, to teach them good manners and give them confidence in people and trust that food was always coming and they wouldn’t be hurt. Months of rehabilitation and we had two friendly horses settled and happy.

Unfortunately, in the November, Dolly developed a limp and started to drag her back leg, unable to bring it underneath her or walk properly. The Vet came to visit a number of times and it was decided the only thing that could save her was surgery, but surgery was a high risk option…it was also the only option Dolly had, her leg would not heal by itself and she would not have had a good quality of life if she was unable to walk or move freely.

Surgery was booked for the day before New Year’s Eve. Three vets from the practice attended as none of them had performed this surgery before nor seen it done (this type of surgery is usually completed under general anaesthetic and with a laser returning to the old fashioned scalpel was a challenge). A few hours later and we waited to see if the surgery was a success as Dolly came round from her anaesthetic. A few weeks later Dolly was back to cantering around the field and kicking up her hooves, the surgery worked and once again she had a future.

Dolly, still sleepy after her leg surgery

Move forward a couple of years, Dolly was able to be re-homed where she started to be trained to pull a trap and the plan was for her and her loan owner to trek the Pennine Way in 2018.

Dolly went to the loan home with Izzy (a sling lane pony) so she was not alone.

Unfortunately, Dolly and Izzy were returned to the rescue as the partner of the loan home owner became seriously ill so his attention had to be focused on her instead. They very much enjoyed their time loaning the two ponies and while in their care the ponies were truly spoilt and very happy.

Both Dolly and Izzy are now very settled in the big herd and in fact are very much the boss ladies!

A lot of the work Penny Ha’Penny Horse & Pony Rescue do is behind the scenes, quietly working for the best result we can for individual horses. While we need all the support we can get we are often so busy looking after the horses we forget to ask for the help or tell people everything that is going on.

The attached pictures show Dolly at the side of the road before we got involved, the day they arrived, undergoing the life saving surgery and more recently settled and happy in the herd.

Without Penny Ha’Penny Horse & Pony Rescue stepping in horses like Dolly and many others would not have a second chance at life.

Please give generously to help more horses like Dolly get the futures they deserve.

Dolly before and after
being rescued

(Tethered at Roadside and in park Photos courtesy of the Worcester News)