Some of you may remember a video that went viral on social media platforms – a video of a little pony, apple bobbing. His name was Doc a 23 year old Shetland pony. The video had in excess of 15.5k views. Whilst cute and popular, what the video did not depict was his story.

Doc had lost sight in one of his eyes, although it was still there. He also had a collapsed trachea. This meant that when he was stressed or anxious he used to wheeze, an alarming over exaggerated snoring noise that was painful to hear.

Despite his obvious ailments, Doc was able to have a good quality of life, with us his rescuers Although how he came to be with us, is not so good.

We received a call from someone who had heard a strange noise and gone to investigate. They discovered Doc in a hotspot tethering area, struggling to breathe. I could hear him from three streets away. He was tethered and surrounded by many other horses, causing him severe anxiety and stress, which in turn increased his difficulty to draw breath. Any horse in this situation, would not feel comfortable, let alone one that only had vision from one eye. Being tethered meant that Doc was unable to get away from the other horses to somewhere he would feel safe. His fear of danger was extremely heightened, raising his anxiety and making his breathing worse in a vicious cycle.


After some discussions with local people, we were able to establish who the owner was – a twelve year old boy. He had purchased Doc with a £40.00 inheritance from the passing of his gran.

The young boy was absolutely distraught that his new friend was suffering and also that his parents might find out that he had purchased a horse. We had to get some treatment for Doc, however given that his owner was only 12, we required authorisation from a close family member who was an adult. After much discussion the boy put us in touch with a suitable adult and finally we visited his sister, who signed Doc over, allowing us to arrange transport and ensure that Doc received the treatment that he so badly required. The young boy kept in touch with us – always affirming his love for Doc, always enquiring if he was better and asking if he was missing him.


Over time we learnt more about Doc’s history. He had been dumped in various places with access for grazing, on a common, on a flood plain, and had spent a lot of time being stabled 24/7. He received his eye and trachea injuries when he was kicked by a stallion.
His presumed previous owner contacted me, with threats and harassment. This was short lived because Doc was sold by a dealer to a little boy, trying to fill the void that grief had left him with, with a pony of his own, Doc.

Doc went on to have a very comfortable life with us, he lived in small mixed herd, had a best friend, lots of attention from visitors and most of all the care that he required. He had an amazing 7 months of comfortable life, and in the later couple of months he had to have asthma medication.

Doc gracefully galloped over rainbow bridge on the 27th April 2017, with what we imagine full sight and no breathing problems.

There are many that may be disgusted that a 12 year old boy owned a pony – many would condemn him.

Where do we fit in as Communities For Horses?

Only due to our relationships with individuals in these communities can we assist horses like Doc, and the 12 year old boys, struggling with grief. We have the opportunity to see the issues that would be dispelled by others. We have the opportunities and connections to liaise with the local schools, support workers, social workers and others to get the boy the help he needs. To engage with him, create empathy and compassion and most of all the knowledge required for horse ownership. We can install the responsibility to prevent such things happening again. Or at least provide an avenue for assistance, not a get-out clause but a rationale, to prevent this from happening again, to others, ponies and children.

Again, this is where We ask for help; Work, just like this case, is currently being undertaken at on very low scale. We ask for your assistance, your compassion and generosity, in memory of Doc. The apple bobbing hero, who finally got to enjoy life.