Father and son David Bellis and three-year-old Jacob were on a country walk when they came upon a grinning horse in a field and decided to take a selfie.
David later entered the picture into Thomson Holiday ‘Made Me Smile’ competition and were told they'd won a £2,000 trip – which would be their first family getaway.
But David was then branded "shameful and stupid" because he didn’t have the horse owner’s consent to use the photo.
The horse’s owner Nicola Mitchell told him he did not have her consent to photograph the horse – and she was contacting Thomson Holidays to complain.
David, who works on off-shore wind turbines, has since received messages from Nicola’s friends calling his actions "shameful" and demanding he hand over half the winnings.
David, from Prestatyn in north Wales, said his son Jacob had been crying and asking if they weren't allowed to go on holiday anymore.
Watch: Kevin Ashford reports from Prestatyn
I don’t understand why Nicola is so annoyed about it. I was on a public path that everyone uses to go to the local school and everyone sees the horse there. I just think it’s sad that rather than being happy for me that I won a holiday someone’s automatic thought it that they have been cheated out of something. I think they are just jealous that I have won something nice – it just shows how bitter people can be. At first they thought I was winning £2,000 cash and were saying I should give them half, but it’s a holiday so they are not getting a penny. I’m not giving them the holiday either.
Mum-of-three Nicola, also from Prestatyn, bought the horse Betty for her daughter Katelyne three years ago and Betty has since been taught to stick out her tongue. Nicola, a secretary, said:
I was really annoyed to hear he had won a £2,000 holiday and had used a picture of our horse without our permission. He should have asked for our consent. It’s not like it’s just £100. £2,000 is a lot of money and would go quite a long way for a family. I didn’t give him permission to use our horse in a competition. I will be phoning Thomson Holidays to tell them what has gone on but I don’t know what they will do. But I will tell them I’m not happy. “There should be some token of gesture as it is our horse that has really won them the holiday. “I didn’t even know that this competition was on. If I had known about it we would have entered it ourselves and could have won as Betty is always sticking out her tongue.
David had been walking with Jacob down a path behind their house that goes past the field where Betty the horse was staying at the time.
David said the horse posed for the photos and clearly loved being in front of the camera and enjoyed the attention.
Thomson Holidays told ITV News that David and his family would still be going on holiday despite the row.
Our Blue Monday competition was meant to make people smile on what’s been deemed the most depressing day of the year. We can confirm that despite questions over foal play, Mr Bellis and his family will still be receiving their holiday. And we’re sure they will hoof a good time.