A LLANGATTOCK woman is urging ramblers and hikers to always shut gates in the countryside after a Shetland Pony escaped from a field and nearly died in a cattle grid.

It took a four-hour struggle by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue’s specialist Animal Rescue Team and Abbey Vets to finally free 21-year-old Shetland stallion Teifi. However, it could have all been avoided if the person responsible had closed the gate after walking through the private field where Teifi and two other Shetlands are kept.

Katy Stepto of Wern Watkin Bunkhouse, where the incident occurred, told the Chronicle, “I wish I could say the situation which led to Teifi’s accident was a one-off, but finding the gate left open is a weekly occurrence. It’s not like it’s a big or old gate that is hard to open and shut. Nor can you miss the fact that we keep ponies, or use the excuse that the field is in the middle of nowhere. Our house is right by the field, so you’d think it would be common courtesy for people using the right of way to shut the gate behind them. Their failure to follow the most basic rules of the countryside almost led to an innocent animal’s death!”

Katy, who moved to Wern Watkin Bunkhouse in 2019 added, “I can’t speak for the previous owner but since I’ve been here I have to physically check the gate daily. It’s not the local ramblers that are the problem, it’s more the careless element in the huge influx of visitors we get to the Brecon Beacons National Park. They either don’t understand the importance of shutting gates or they think we’re putting them there to be difficult. I’m a keen walker and mountain biker myself and respect everyone’s right to roam, but with that freedom comes respect, and whoever walked throughout my field that day didn’t have any.”

Katy, who was looking after Teifi for her friend Beth Watkins, first became aware that the wandering Shetland had become stuck in the cattle grid at 7 am.

“I was just about to jump in the bath and I looked out of the window and saw Teifi stuck in the cattle grid,” explained Katy. “I rushed out and noticed all her legs were stuck and there was blood all over her face where she had smashed it when falling. She was really quiet, and trembling, but the blood was quite fresh so thankfully I don’t think she had been there long.”

Katy rushed to get a blanket to keep Teifi warm and immediately rang her friend Beth and the emergency services, who said they would send a specialist crew to help.

Katy explained, “The specialist team the fire service sent arrived within 40 minutes and they were outstanding. They tried all options to lift her out but in the end, they decided to cut her out and asked me to call a vet.”

Katy rang Abbey Vets and 15 minutes later a vet was on the scene to sedate Teifi and keep her calm as the emergency services used cutters and grinders to free her.

Emergency services rescuing a Shetland pony from cattle grid
(Katy Stepto)

Teifi’s owner Beth said, “He received enough sedative to floor an elephant and tolerated hours of curating equipment but he’s now safe and warm in his stable. We can’t thank Amber from Abbey Vets and the emergency services enough for their amazing support. What a team! Whilst I support the rights of walkers to walk safely across fields, why would anyone leave gates open? Please think when you open gates on private property. Close them behind you!”

The gate where the Shetland Pony escaped from
(Katy Stepto)