A YOUNG girl must pay £806...to get her lost pony back.

Nina Pettit, 11, was left in floods of tears after her treasured pet went missing from its paddock off the old A130, Rayleigh.

So when she discovered Steel, a year-old Welsh section A pony, had been recovered nearby by the police she was over the moon.

However, her mother, Alison Pettit, then spent ten hours frantically trying to find out where the animal was because police had lost the records.

Officers finally tracked him down, but said a private company is holding the animal. Mrs Pettit claims the company wants £806 to release him.

Mrs Pettit, who lives in May Avenue, Canvey, said: “I understand one of the sanctuaries around here charges £50 a night for a horse.

“I don’t know how they can come up with this figure unless it’s been eating golden straw and was taken away in a limo. I can’t afford to get him back.”

The first she knew about the pony missing was on Wednesday morning when her husband went to do his daily check.

She then rang Rayleigh police station, but the system was down. She tried to call Wickford, but couldn’t get through. Eventually, she spoke to the force information room in Chelmsford.

She was advised to try ringing a kennels and cattery in Sevenoaks, Kent, to see if the pony was there, only for them to tell her they only dealt with dogs and cats.

She was even advised to call the British Horse Society to check no one had tried to get him a passport.

An officer finally tracked the pony down at 8pm, but demanded the huge fee for its return. Police also said, for security reasons, they could not disclose the company holding the pony.

Mrs Pettit, 40, said it had been particularly upsetting for Nina because she had broken her leg on the first day of the summer holidays.

She said: “It’s been quite a horrendous holiday. My daughter’s been in a cast from her groin to her toes, and she’s been in tears because that horse is her baby.”

An Essex Police spokeswoman said they had found and detained the pony before arranging for collection by a private company.

They then received a call from the owner the following morning.

She said: “We did have some difficulty finding where the horse had been taken. However, later that day officers advised the woman the horse had been found and advised her of the charge for transport and livery.

“Essex Police had no involvement in the charges levied by a private company.”