A GROUP of ponies gaze solemnly at the body of one of their herd, stuck dead by a car – in a vigil that has lasted through the night.
The mare called Hazel Hill Scrap is understood to have been hit by a motorist in the New Forest last Tuesday.
The poignant snap shows its family looking on at the tragic beast who died at the roadside from internal injuries and a broken leg.
It was taken by Sarah Simmons and shared on social media.
She wrote: “I hope people realise it’s not just the owner of the horse who it upsets, but their herd members, too.”
Nine-year-old Hazel was owned by Cathy Stride, a housewife from Minstead, near Lyndhurst, and is the third of her ponies to be killed on this stretch of road.
She said: "Hazel is irreplaceable. She's just one of three of mine that have been killed. They are being knocked down like skittles because people think they'll cut through the open forest and don't slow up.
"This is the third one we have had hit and killed on that particular road.
"We have a family of girls and in that photographer, the mum and stepsister are looking on at Hazel.
"The horses go back generations and they are irreplaceable.
"It's heartbreaking that just after five o'clock the night before Sarah found her, she was killed.
"Those ponies are still grieving that horse. Animals do that just like humans.”
Both Cathy and Sarah are urging motorists to back the New Forest Roads Campaign, which aims to make drivers more aware animals' right of way.
Sarah added: “Unfortunately this is quite a common occurrence in the forest.
"I drive and ride ponies in the forest and I've noticed in the past 30 years that there's been an increase in accidents.
"People don't realise horses are flight animals. That means that even if you see a horse grazing away from the road, all it takes is for a deer to stick its head out of a bush and that horse will be spooked and run into the road."
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