Bear, an Exmoor pony, had sadly not seen the best side of human nature during his short time here on this Earth. Having been brutally branded multiple times as a newly-weaned foal, Bear learned to distrust humans and was petrified of even being touched.
Bear’s distrustful nature made it difficult for him to be trained and was a deterrent to potential owners. As a result, he was ultimately scheduled to be slaughtered. But as a charity were attempting to find him a home because they knew his situation Dawn Westcott, nicknamed the Pony Whisperer after her best-selling novel Wild Pony Whispering, met Bear while he was awaiting his cull and decided to house Bear until the charity found a home. But during this time Dawn established quite a bond with the pony effects of which were seen in Bear’s cooperation and in his close relationship with Dawn. She says, “Like any bright creatures, they don’t like being handled with coercion and violence, or not being listened to, and they have so much to offer when invited to be willing partners.” Their relationship grew so strong out of mutual love and respect for each other that for two years in a row Bear was named Horse Agility World Champion competing for 12 months against participants from 13 different countries. He has also beaten a royal horse owned by the Queen, garnering first place in the NPS Mountain & Moorland Silver Medal Rosette Championship while doing so. What makes Bear’s accomplishments notable is that the horse excels in areas in which Exmoor ponies are not considered to be talented performers. The experience with Bear has turned Dawn into an impassioned activist speaking out regarding the “barbaric torture” that horses suffer. She says, “The Hawkwell herd is one of the oldest and most prestigious Exmoor pony herds and they do try very hard to place their foals,” she says. “But the foals, being wild-born, can struggle to find people willing and able to take them on.”