A heartbroken horse owner has pleaded with people not to feed her animals in Coventry after one of her beloved ponies died.
Jo Robbins keeps four horses in a field on Binley Road, close to St Bartholomew’s Church, and on Monday May 4 discovered her pony Rio dead when she arrived there.
Jo said it was clear that Rio had died after eating something she shouldn’t as there were signs of colic.
She said she regularly encounters people trying to feed her horses things they should not be eating – including fruit, vegetables, grass cuttings and bread.
Jo said the problem has intensified since the lockdown started, with people seemingly seeing feeding her horses as an alternative to feeding the ducks in local parks.
And there are times when she has been there when as many as four or five different people have tried to feed them.
Speaking about her grim discovery Jo said: “We were absolutely heartbroken.
“My 15-year-old daughter found Rio – dead in the field.
“She had been fine the night before and had come in for her dinner as usual.
“She looked like she had been thrashing around, there were signs of colic and she was covered in mud.
“I have owned Rio since she was born and it was the day before what would have been her 25th birthday.”
Jo said it was clear to her that Rio had died after eating something she shouldn’t and believes her death was as a result of her being fed something by a well-meaning but uninformed member of the public.
“It has always been a bit of a problem,” she said. “We are on a main road and a lot of people come up to the horses but it has become much worse since lockdown.
“We put signs all around the field saying don’t feed them but still people are feeding them.”
Jo said the horses graze in the field and their diet is supplemented by horse feed but each of them has a different and specialised diet.
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Often she is there when people try to feed them and she has seen people trying to give them carrots, apples, raw potatoes, bread and grass cuttings.
“I went at the weekend and there was a family with a lot of kids. When I went over to them and said please don’t feed them they said ‘it’s only an apple’.
“The one they were feeding has an illness – a horse variation of diabetes and shouldn’t be having anything.
“We had a problem a couple of years ago with Rio where she almost choked on grass cuttings.
“Grass cuttings are particularly bad for them. We are right by the graveyard and the grass gets cut and people feed it to them.”
The message Jo wants to get across is that she is happy for people to go to see her horses but is begging them not to feed them.
She said: “We are living in hard times and I don’t want to stop people going to see them – particularly children – but it has got to the stage where it is beyond a joke
“As I said the problem has definitely got worse since lockdown.
“Instead of people going to the park to feed the ducks they go for a walk to feed the horses.
“Children are even coming with little buckets of food – carrots and whatever.
“People aren’t doing it on purpose, they are just trying to be kind.
“I want people to realise I’m not being mean.
“It’s all right going to fuss them but just don’t feed them.”