Five of Queen Elizabeth’s ponies have died from a “dreadful” disease

The 94-year-old monarch has seen a number of the Highland ponies, which are kept at her Balmoral estate in Scotland, pass away over the last two years after contracting equine grass sickness, which is believed to be triggered by toxins that attack the nervous system and eventually paralyse the animal’s gut.

Stud manager Sylvia Ormiston, who has run the Balmoral stud since 2007, called for further research to tackle to condition.

She told the British Horse Society’s magazine: “Here at Balmoral we are prepared to help in any way we can to make progress towards a cure for this dreadful disease.”

Sylvia explained how “sweet two-year-old filly” Friendly was the first to die, followed by her mother just a day later. Later that year, a three-year-old male named Omar passed away, and in 2018, the stud’s two stallions, Balmoral Lord and Balmoral Hercules, died within two weeks of each other.

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The breed is at risk and prior to Balmoral Lord’s death, some of his DNA was stored at Britain’s first livestock gene bank.

The stallions’ death posed a major threat to Balmoral’s breeding programme, of which the queen – who rode Highland ponies as a teenager and is also patron of the Highland Pony Society – takes a keen interest

The monarch approves the name of each of the ponies bred on the estate, and they are often led closer to the castle when she’s in residence in Scotland so she can watch them from her windows.

The queen also breeds Fell ponies, which like Highland ponies are considered vulnerable by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

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Author: BANG Showbiz