Wild ponies tamed by The Archers
Four wild ponies used to roaming free on moorland are being trained to work with humans thanks to The Archers, a rescue centre has said.
The Dartmoor Hill ponies arrived at the Brinsley Animal Rescue centre in Nottinghamshire last week having lived a solitary existence on the Devon moors.
George, Merry, Monty and a fourth yet-to-be-named pony had matted hair, swollen stomachs and were frightened of any contact with humans when they were found.
Now thanks to the Radio 4 soap opera set in Ambridge, they have cottoned on to the idea that behaving well will earn a treat of fresh grass.
As well as listening to the exploits of Brian and Jennifer Aldridge, and hearing the gossip from The Bull, the ponies are also fans of the Afternoon Play on Radio 4.
In the mornings they listen to Fearne Cotton on Radio 1, while Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 is the preferred choice at lunchtime.
Beth Hewis, 32, founder of the rescue centre, said: "They were really frightened of humans as their only experience of us was of being rounded up, put in a small metal cage and microchipped.
"The idea of putting the radio on was so that they could get used to human voices and music as they would have only heard cars up on the moors. We turned Radio 4 on because there was more talking than music and we thought The Archers was a good programme.
"They've now become used to human voices and been transformed within a week of listening to The Archers. They are probably following the storyline by now."
The ponies were among 42 found living wild on Dartmoor. Had they not been rescued, they would have been shot and used for pet food or meat for zoo animals. Instead, the ponies were sent to rescue centres across the country.