ITS owners oat to have been providing it with a stable environment, but until this week, it was equestion of survival for Castleford’s high street horse.
The mystery animal – believed to be called Storm – was discovered horsing around behind Carlton Lanes shopping centre last summer in a yard measuring 10 ft square.
But the plot thickened yesterday when the horse was seen trotting off towards Wheldon Road at 7.37am.
David Bailey, Carlton Lanes manager, believed the piebald pony belonged to the owners of A&J Keenan’s Affordables, on Carlton Street, who were spotted on CCTV leading it down the road.
He said: “Everything is still the same, just minus a horse. It’s possible they might have taken it for a ride or to a vet but they usually come to the site. So it’s probably been moved, but it’s the first time in a year.
“I’m very happy it’s gone for the horse’s welfare, hopefully it’s gone to a better place. Plus it’s no longer a fire hazard and I can get a clean-up underway.”
Mr Bailey had made several attempts to contact the horse’s owners because he was concerned for the animal’s welfare, and for the health and safety of customers and staff, but he was unable to get a response.
He said the fire service visited the black and white cart horse last week as the enclosure was blocking a centre fire escape. He added that the Affordables shop had been shut for two days.
Mr Bailey said: “This all started last year when I got a phone call from Argos saying ‘do you realise there’s a horse in your loading bay?’.
“I went round and found it in this area which backs onto the service yard. It had no shelter, it’s just the back garden of a terrace house.
“So I rang the RSPCA and they investigated and said it needed food, water, exercise and a roof over its head.
“They advised the owners what they needed to do and that was it. But it carried on the same way.”
Leanne Plumtree, a spokeswoman for the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA has been working with the owners for quite some time.
“They weren’t strictly speaking doing anything wrong, it wasn’t in our view an ideal situation and the owners were advised to move the horse when they were able to find it somewhere suitable.
“Given that the horse was gone yesterday morning, I assume this is what has happened.”
The Express was unable to contact the owners for comment.