How an abandoned and terrified foal went on to become a beloved children’s pony

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How an abandoned and terrified foal went on to become a beloved children’s pony

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Little Lexie was just four months old when she was hit by a car on Dartmoor and abandoned by her mum.

The mare had moved on with the herd, leaving an injured, scared and traumatised foal.

We set about catching Lexie, who had a large wound on her leg. It took several hours but finally she was loaded, stabled, stitched up and treated by a vet.

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She then joined our grooms and ponies at the Sanctuary’s Yelverton stables and, after being gently handled and weaned, she was ready to find a new home.

But she was still terrified of moving vehicles.

Whoever took her in would have to be understanding and knowledgeable, with reservoirs of patience to help her overcome her fears.

Lexie was also headstrong and challenging – often demanding attention and stubbornly refusing to listen.

However, to Mandy Hayley the hardest challenges hold the greatest rewards and she leapt to Lexie’s rescue.

She said: “I just knew she was misunderstood. You could see the kindness in her eyes. She just demanded respect and I suspected she would show it in return.

“It took years before Lexie could let a car pass without her shaking with fear, but with time and patience we got there in the end.”

Mandy began with lots of groundwork and positive reinforcement for good behaviour.

And in no time at all, Lexie was even teaching Mandy’s young grandchildren to ride.

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Mandy said: “Lexie is very intelligent and very strong.  I have never forced her to do anything. She is good because she wants to be.

“Lexie has taught my three grandchildren to ride and they are now hardy riders! It has been a wonderful experience for them.

“Lexie has taught them to be respectful and confident riders. She is not a pony you can just get on and go. You have to understand her.”

Tragically 32 horses, ponies and foals were killed on Dartmoor’s roads in 2018 – although the number only relates to cases reported to authorities and is likely to be far higher. Countless more were injured.

But Mandy and Lexie’s journey shows that even the tragic and traumatised can come good in the end.

All it takes is a little kindness, care and knowledge – and a bucket load of love and patience.