After making some enquiries, it seems that the "R" mark is supposed to indicate that these ponies belong to a breeder called Mary Alford. Whilst hot branding is still legal, wild ponies are having to endure a procedure that is considered unacceptable by all the major welfare organisations in this country, including the British Veterinary Association and the British Equine Veterinary Association. Banned in Scotland, Holland, Denmark, and perhaps soon in Germany, the UK is waiting for the RSPCA to decide whether branding is cruel or not before things can move forward.
Not far from where the pony above was found, the volunteers found another group of recently branded young ponies. Unbelievably, these had also been illegally ear notched...so a nice trip in the sunshine over Dartmoor turned into rather a shocking display of mutilated ponies...somewhat disappointing for a day trip to the moor.
Visiting tourists seemed to agree - being so horrified at seeing injured ponies, particularly the one with 3rd degree burns, they got back into their cars and drove off.
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