Warning this report contains an image of a deceased horse and details some readers may find distressing
A breeder of one of the world's rarest horses has been left heartbroken after a broodmare carrying an unborn foal was found dead, having been fed by a member of the public.
He now wants to raise awareness of the dangers of feeding horses.
It appears Harmony, who was part of the critically endangered Cleveland Bay breed, was fed over the fence a well-meaning but "ignorant" passer-by.
It is not the first time this has happened, with Mr Medforth losing another horse in similar circumstances just three years ago.
Talking about the impact of the incident on 20 November, Mr Medforth, who took over running the stud after his father Charles died in 2017, said: “This is a breed rarer than the giant panda. So to lose one of our most prolific brood mares and her unborn foal is not just devastating for our breeding programme, it’s damaging for the breed as a whole.”
Harmony was especially valuable because of the purity of her "old breeding" bloodlines.
Only 15 to 20 female Clevelands are born worldwide "in a good year", he said.
Mr Medforth added patches of grass around the dead animal were "extensively grazed, a sign she had been scouring food items from the ground".
Urging the public to be more mindful about the potential risks of feeding horses, he said: “Over winter, there’s less grass on the ground and fields can be a little muddy, so some people might think horses and livestock aren’t getting enough food.“Others might just think it’s a nice idea to feed a pretty horse. But our horses are well looked after, they’re fed a balanced diet and they want for nothing. If anything, they’re fed better than we are."
He added: “Why do the general public think it’s okay to feed livestock without permission? They wouldn’t walk up to someone and feed their dog chocolate or grapes, which are poisonous to them.
"People might think carrots are okay for horses but, cut the wrong way, they can cause choke. So please don’t interfere with their diets, you might be killing them with your ignorance.”
Established in 1972, the Penrhyn Stud has a global reputation for breeding Clevelands, which date back to the 17th Century.
The breed thrived because of their adaptability, initially used as pack horses by monks to carry goods between abbeys and monasteries.
However, numbers dwindled to just four, before the breed was rescued by the late Queen.
The Penrhyn stud received a royal patronage because of its work with the animals.
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