Someone taking a selfie forced a pony to jump off a cliff in Gower, a farmer says

By | September 12, 2023

People taking selfies with ponies at a tourist spot caused the death of a newborn foal when it fell off a cliff, a farmer has said.

Visitors are now being warned not to touch the ponies in Gower, Swansea.

The animals have grazed the cliffs for generations while being looked after by farmer Nicky Beynon’s family.

But after three of her ponies died last year in collisions with cars and continued harassment from visitors, she is now wondering about their future.

The National Trust conservation charity has asked visitors to stick to the countryside code – guidelines designed to help the public enjoy outdoor spaces.

Beynon, 60, who farms in Llangennith and Rhossili, said her gypsy ponies are overwhelmed by people trying to touch them and take selfies up close.

“They all want to take a photograph, but they don’t realize what they’re doing, the amount of stress they’re putting on the animal,” Beynon said.

A mare and her young foal observe Rhossili beach

Louise Church said some people are unaware of how they should behave towards wild animals

He said the foal’s death occurred in April.

His mother gave birth “a couple of hundred meters” from the edge of the cliff, and Mr Beynon said people crowded in “trying to take photographs and forced her closer and closer to the edge”.

“Suddenly the baby staggers up, trying to learn to stand, and stumbles over the edge,” she said.

“The mare that lost her foal in the cliff, she’s a pretty sharp and sensitive mare. The foal had been gone about half an hour before I found her and she was going crazy.

“He knew the colt had just disappeared.”

The breeder said he had to bring all his mares home after the accident so they could give birth safely.

A mare leads her young foal along the cliff top at Rhossili at sunset

Photographers were asked to move away from the ponies to give them space

In 2022 Mr Beynon was forced to remove the ponies from the headland because someone had flown a drone “about 10 feet above her”.

The pony “couldn’t understand where this noise was coming from and was spinning around,” he said.

Mr Beynon said the man controlling the drone couldn’t understand the stress he was putting the pony to.

“There are people flying drones there every day, and these things are capable of filming from hundreds of meters away, the same thing with zoom lenses,” he said. “You don’t have to touch the horse or get that close.”

Mr Beynon has already had to stop grazing sheep on the headland after a series of dog attacks, including a sheep being eaten alive by someone’s Alsatian pet.

Louise Church, 47, said she visits the area regularly from her home in Swansea, and has intervened several times when people scared the ponies.

He said that in April, shortly before the colt’s death, he stopped a man who was chasing a pony to take a photo.

“They’re not domesticated. They’re wild animals,” he said.

And just four weeks ago, while walking his dog, he said he saw a family with a three-year-old girl who had walked up to a horse’s hind legs and was petting its legs.

“The parents were oblivious,” Ms. Church said.

“If the horse had kicked her she would have been in serious trouble.”

The National Coastwatch Institution, based on the cliff, said it will have to issue warnings on a daily basis for people to stay away from the ponies.

In a social media post, the organization said: “Just recently we had to carry a young woman to the car park after she had been kicked by a stallion near our hut. We did what we could, in terms of emergency room”. , but found it difficult to walk.

National Trust Cymru, Gower said the area is “home to a variety of special wildlife and livestock which graze freely across common land and meadows”.

He asked everyone to abide by the rural code and observe its guidelines.

What is the campaign code?

The Countryside Code is a set of guidelines designed to help the public enjoy outdoor spaces while protecting nature and landowners’ livelihoods.

Among these guidelines are:

  • Give plenty of space to wild animals, livestock and horses. Their behavior can be unpredictable, especially when they are with their little ones and you could get hurt

  • Do not feed it to livestock, horses or wild animals as it may cause harm to them

  • Leave gates and properties as you find them or follow the instructions on signs

  • Always keep dogs under control and in sight

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