Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

Wild at Heart

Rowan's Story

Last spring Goatacre Farm Sanctuary reached out to us about a pony called Rowan who was in trouble.

As a huge lover of our equine friends, his story touched my heart and I knew I had to help.

Rowan is an Exmoor pony who was facing euthanasia because he had a nervous disposition. He had been plucked from Exmoor National Park, was deemed “too wild to tame”, and kept secluded in a stable for over a year.

His ‘nervous disposition’ was simply his survival instinct. Rowan is a wild animal who’d had very little human interaction growing up.

In Need of Help

A local horse rider had learned about Rowan’s story and set out to find him a new home.

The first time I met Rowan he was in a circular 6ft tall area sand. His owners had tried to move him back to the stable, but he was so scared that he panicked, knocked over a fence and dragged his helpers around.

Fear can make even the smallest pony as strong as a horse!

I couldn’t get within 5ft of him, but his gentle eyes full of terror sealed the deal and we offered him a place at the Sanctuary.

Journey to the Sanctuary

A week later, and with a lot of coaxing, we loaded him onto a trailer and set off to Coppershell.

When he arrived at the Sanctuary he immediately bolted out of his trailer, nostrils flaring and tail swishing, yet within minutes he was tucked up eating hay angrily in his new yard.

It was a sobering moment and I thought I may be in over my head.

Trust Issues

We spent the first few months trying to gain his trust. We sat in the corner of his stable each morning and night, on our phones or reading a book, trying to get him used to human interaction.

We taught him to take treats by slowly pulling them from our pockets and offering them on an open hand, knowing any sudden movements would cause him to cower. Each day he would show more and more interest, but not once did he let his guard down.

As the weeks progressed, Rowan still winced at any human touch no matter how soft. Weeks turned to months and it felt like we were not making any progress at all, he seemed just as nervous as the day he moved in.

Frustrating Lack of Progress

We spoke to a vet about castration, hoping it would allow him to integrate with the herd. Up until this point the only friends he had at the Sanctuary were the five goats who shared his yard.

After oral and IV sedation, which he was still fighting against, the vet decided it would not be safe to castrate him until he was able to walk to the barn on the adjacent yard to come around from the general anaesthetic.

I felt deflated. I didn’t know where to go and just wanted this sweet boy to be back on Exmoor living the life he was meant to have.

To my surprise, the vet agreed! It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t failing this poor pony, and he was just cut out for a different style of living.  

Fantastic News!

The Moorland Mousie Trust Logo

That’s when we learned about Exmoor Pony Centre.

Situated in the heart of Exmoor National Park, the Exmoor Pony Centre is a small charity owned by the Moorland Mousie Trust. They promote and protect the endangered rare-breed Exmoor Pony.

They immediately accepted Rowan into their conservation programme and as they had other boys ready for castration, asked if he could join them ASAP!

I know first-hand the demand animal charities are under, so to say I was excited is an understatement!

A New Chapter

I set to finding his transportation immediately. Luckily for us our followers are remarkable and a wonderful person offered to give up her day and transport Rowan the 2.5hrs to his new home!

My stomach was in knots when it was ready for him to leave.

I was worried about how he would load, the stress he would be under and if I had given up too easily. Deep down I knew that this was the right thing to do.

After 45 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to coax him into a side loading box, something he had not seen before, we knew we had to get a little bit tougher. We gathered behind him and gave him a good push forward into the truck. Once he was in, he seemed to immediately relax – his world was so small when he was younger that it still provided comfort now.

And off he went to start his new chapter.

The journey was smooth and the offloading was fast and steady. He’s in quarantine until his castration next week. The Coppershell team have kindly been invited to the Exmoor Pony Centre to see his progress and learn more about what they do.

Setting A Wild Soul Free

A herd of Exmoor ponies running in the grass
Image courtesy of Exmoor Pony Centre

His rescue was a huge learning curve for all of us involved, me especially.

I’ve learnt that it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ and reach out for advice when I am feeling hopeless.

Our supporters are so knowledgeable, kind and generous, it would be a disservice to the Residents not to ask for their help and guidance in trying times.

Rowan’s absence at the farm will not go unnoticed. He was cautious but curious. Watching us intently as we prepared meals for the Residents and even occasionally whinnying at the volunteers.

The hole his absence has left in the Sanctuary is nothing compared to the knowing that we have set a wild soul free.

We spent £300 in total on Rowan’s transporation costs.
If you could spare a couple of pounds towards the fees we would be very grateful.

Or you could donate to the Exmoor Pony Centre for all the amazing work they do.

If you could consider donating towards vet bills or rebuild costs we would be forever grateful.

Storm Ciara

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Reclaim Gift Aid

Gift Aid It!Add 25% more to your donation at no cost to you. A Gift Aid declaration allows to claim tax back on eligible donations. It means that for every £1 you donate to we can claim back 25p, at no extra cost to you.

By ticking the "Yes" box, I agree I would like to reclaim the tax on all qualifying donations I have made, as well as any future donations, until I notify them otherwise. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year I may be asked to pay any difference. I understand that will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid does not cost you a penny more, but can add an additional 25p to every £1 you donate. When receives a donation from a UK taxpayer, we're entitled to claim an amount of tax (calculated at the basic rate of income tax in that year) paid on that donation. Once you have given your permission for us to do this on your behalf, there is no need for you to do anything else.

All that is required is that you must be a taxpayer and that would have paid or will pay sufficient Income and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover all the Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year. Please note that it is your responsibility to pay any difference.

The amount of tax we claim will be 25% of the total value of your donations in that tax year. Furthermore, if you are a higher taxpayer, you are also entitled to claim the difference between the basic rate which we will claim and the amount of tax you have actually paid. For further details on how you can do this, please contact your tax office. If your tax situation changes and your gifts will no longer be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme please contact us and we will amend your record accordingly.

Take me to my donation »

Donation Total: £3.00

Subscribe to our newsletter

Other Posts


a Sanctuary Resident

From just £3 a month you can help one of our amazing Sanctuary Residents by becoming a sponsor

What do Coppershell Farm Sanctuary do?

Coppershell Farm Sanctuary is a registered charity that rescue, provide care for, and rehome animals in need.

Founded in 2018 we have saved over 400 animals from perilous situations.

Learn more about the chairity

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

More Articles.