Cathy Stratton rounded up the ponies after a friend told her they were in a field beside the busy trunk road, near Dedham.
She was convinced they had been abandoned and took them back to the field where she keeps her own horses. She then phoned the RSPCA and the police, but neither would help, since the ponies’ origins were uncertain and they were, clearly, no longer in danger.
Mrs Stratton and daughter, Ellie Steele, 15, say they are enjoying looking after the animals, but don’t really want to care for them for good. She added: “If I’d just left them there and phoned the police, they might have collected them. It’s just unbelievable. We were being penalised doing the responsible thing.”
However, the saga has now ended happily, with the Essex Horse and Pony Rescue Centre agreeing to take the ponies if it becomes clear they were genuinely abandoned.