Rustlers blamed for pony disappearance

MYSTERY today surrounds how two ponies managed to get into a fenced field during a 24-hour disappearance.Hours of desperate searching are now over for relieved owner Julie Abbott, who scoured countryside around Nacton day for Hideaway Harry and Tinkerbell.

MYSTERY today surrounds how two ponies managed to get into a fenced field during a 24-hour disappearance.

Hours of desperate searching are now over for relieved owner Julie Abbott, who scoured countryside around Nacton day for Hideaway Harry and Tinkerbell.

Mrs Abbot is now blaming horse-rustlers for the mysterious disappearance, despite police assurances there were no suspicious circumstances.

Fighting back tears of relief, she said: "They were kidnapped, I am sure of that.

"The gates here and at the field they were found in were both locked, so how else can you explain it?

"The field they were found in was even bordered by a brick wall and a cattle grid. There is just no way they could have got in there on their own.

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"The fence is low in places and there is a gap, but they never escape. They are inseparable.

"When I approached the field they were in, Harry started calling to me. He's my baby."

Mrs Abbott first discovered the New Forest ponies were missing from their field near Amberfield School at 3pm on Wednesday.

Her fears deepened when she spotted tyre tracks in the field, making her wonder if thieves had driven a horsebox in.

Friends were roped in to help search the village, but their efforts were in vain.

Mrs Abbott left the field gate open in the hope the pair may find their way home and in desperation she called the police who arrived to help the search.

But the moment Mrs Abbot had been waiting for arrived after a radio listener called in to say they had spotted the ponies and a villager saw them grazing.

They were finally found at 12.30pm on Thursday, locked in a field of sheep more than an hour's walk away.

She had both exhausted ponies checked over. They were given a clean bill of health by a vet.

Mrs Abbot got Harry five years ago and appealed in the Evening Star for a friend to cure his loneliness.

Tinkerbell arrived and at the time Mrs Abbott said: "It's as if they were meant for each other."

A police spokeswoman said : "There is nothing to suggest the horses were stolen.

"A weakened fence post in their field was found to have been pushed over and they could have got out.

"Officers attended the scene and residents were made aware of the situation, and asked to keep an eye out."

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