Patron Gemma Owen gives rescued Shetland a new home

Celebrity ambassador and international dressage rider rehomes one-year-old Bert

Posted on 09/07/2024

Patron Gemma Owen gives rescued Shetland a new home

A tiny pony, packed with personality, has begun a new life with our patron and internet sensation Gemma Owen. Bert, a one-year-old Shetland pony, has been rehomed from our Lancashire-based rehabilitation centre, Penny Farm, after he was rescued along with seventeen other Shetlands. His breeder recently received a custodial sentence and a lifetime ban from keeping all animals as a result of the clear neglect and disregard she had for their welfare.

Gemma became a Patron of our charity last year after visiting Penny Farm, one of our four rescue and rehoming centres. During her visit she fell in love with little Bert and offered to give him the best of homes when he was ready to leave the farm.

When I first met Bert, I knew he was special. His cheeky personality and spirit despite his early hardships moved me deeply. I am thrilled to welcome him into our home and to share his journey with my followers.”

Gemma Owen

Bert was only a few months old when he was rescued, along with his mother, Lacey, and a large group of other Shetlands, in one of the worst cases our Field Officer Sarah Tucker had seen. Sadly, eight of the ponies needed to be euthanised due to severe health complications, but Bert was one of the lucky survivors.

Bert’s breeder is currently serving a custodial sentence, having been jailed in May, and being given a lifetime ban on keeping all animals. This follows a significant animal welfare operation involving ourselves and the RSPCA, where the two charities responded to a call from a concerned member of the public and found nineteen Shetland ponies in varying states of neglect. The owner had a ‘veneer of respectability’ within the showing world, with two of her ponies well-looked-after and in show condition, but she allowed the others to suffer in such a dreadful way, despite having received a previous caution for identical offences.

When they were found, most of the ponies were overweight, many had overgrown hooves, and a number showed signs of extreme laminitis — a painful condition affecting their hooves. Tragically, the severity of neglect resulted in six of the ponies needing to be euthanised on-site due to the pain and suffering caused by chronic laminitis, and two more were later euthanised due to ongoing health issues.

One of the best parts of my job is seeing ponies like Bert thriving after rescue and knowing that they will be rehomed into loving, safe homes for the rest of their lives. I was delighted when I heard that he is going to Gemma and I look forward to finding out how they get on. Bert will certainly keep them entertained and he couldn’t ask for a better home.”

Field Officer Sarah Tucker

Gemma Owen has built up over 2-million followers across social media, where she documents her dressage career as well as her glamorous lifestyle. She lives at home in Cheshire with her parents, brother and sisters, and a menagerie of dogs and horses – including 30-year-old Daphne, the pony that helped her fall in love with dressage, who is living out her retirement alongside retired racehorses from the family’s racing yard, Manor House Stables.

We are the largest equine rescue and rehoming charity in the UK and anyone who feels they would like to rehome one of our horses can find out more by visiting our website HERE.

Enjoy reading stories like this?

Join over 55,000 other horse lovers and sign up for our email newsletter

A close up of a users hand whilst they navigate the World Horse Welfare website on a smart phone
Follow our story on social networks