They became a well known tourist attraction. When the ponies seemed to get too numerous Mr Brough engaged a firm of vets, Paragon Veterinary Group, to castrate the males and the numbers stabilised. However the parish council objected to the ponies and they raised concerns about their wellbeing. Early in the morning on Friday 23rd July Mr Brough was arrested. He was held in a cell at Durranhill police station whilst all the ponies were rounded up by the RSPCA and taken to various sanctuaries. Mr Brough was released without charge that afternoon. When he discovered what had happened to the ponies he went to a nearby church and then to a riverbank where he hanged himself. His body was found by his 18 year old grand-daughter. His daughter Kathleen said: “We begged him to carry on and fight for the ponies. He spent half his life fighting the parish council to keep the ponies on the common. He got up at 5am every day to go out and gather grass for his horses. He spent every day with them”. David Black, from Paragon, said: “Of the ponies we saw, considering their management as wild ponies, the vets involved did not have concerns about their body condition”. The RSPCA at first offered to return the ponies to Mr Brough’s widow, but later withdrew their offer, saying that although there was no evidence of the ponies being maltreated, they were concerned that they might be at some time in the future. Many local people believe that the RSPCA have blood on their hands.
There is a support group for Mr Brough’s family mission to return the ponies to Caldbeck Common.