COURAGEOUS campers at one of Hampshire’s biggest sites risked serious injury to try to save a pony that was being savaged by two dogs.

Holidaymakers staying at Hollands Wood, near Brockenhurst, were joined by campsite staff as they battled in vain to protect the terrified animal.

One of the mastiffs suffered a broken nose after being kicked by another pony that also tried to drive off the dogs.

Following the initial attack the badly-injured animal – Poppy – was chased so far from the campsite she was not found until the next day.

Having endured a night of agony Poppy had to be humanely destroyed because her wounds to her head and mouth were so severe.

Details of the campers’ desperate struggle to save her emerged after the dogs’ owner was prosecuted and fined £1,000 by Southampton magistrates.

The outcome of the case was revealed at the monthly Court of Verderers in Lyndhurst.

The Official Verderer, Dominic May, pictured top right, said: “Two mastiff dogs owned by a visitor to Hollands Wood campsite chased and viciously attacked a Shetland pony.

“The pony was chased so far from the campsite that she was not found until the next day.

“At first it was hoped she could be saved but due to the severity of the injuries inflicted by the dogs a vet recommended that she should be destroyed.”

Mr May praised campsite staff, Forestry Commission keeper Jonathan Cook and the police for their role in securing the subsequent prosecution. He added: “We also thank the campers and staff at Hollands Wood for their brave efforts in trying to drive off the dogs. In doing so they undoubtedly risked being seriously injured themselves.

“One of the dogs suffered a broken nose as a result of being kicked during the incident.

“This successful prosecution sends a clear message to all dog owners that they must keep their animals under close control at all times when in the New Forest.”

The incident happened at the 600-pitch campsite earlier this year.

The dogs were owned by Thomas Allen, 21, of Granville Avenue, Slough, who was prosecuted in connection with the incident but did not attend the hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

As well as being fined £1,000 he was ordered to pay £884 compensation to the pony’s owner, plus £250 costs.

His conviction was welcomed by the Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA), which represents pony owners in the Forest.

Commoners’ Defence Association chairman Graham Ferris, pictured top left, said: “The appalling injuries inflicted on the pony by the dogs were extremely distressing to the owner, who had been given the animal as a present.

“We would like to thank the people who tried to drive the dogs off.”