A woman has spoken of her relief after finding her six ponies who had been missing just as she had booked a helicopter to join the search.
Jan O’Neill, owner of Highland Unbridled, was in the Ballater area leading a long-distance horse-riding trail when the animals disappeared.
The steeds were fenced in as usual on Monday night, but when she went to check on them on Tuesday morning they had all vanished.
After being missing for more than a day, and with fears growing the ponies may not be found, Jan, 53, made the decision to draft in some extra help.
She had just booked a helicopter at a cost of almost £3,000 when she received a call to say the ponies had been found around six miles from where they escaped from.
She said: “I’m so relieved. They weren’t even that far away.
“They were between Glenmuick and Glen Tanar. There’s so many nooks and crannies and they managed to find a lovely grassy area.
“They were all together in a happy herd.”
Jan, of Tain, was leading a group on an expedition from Montrose to Aviemore, covering 20 to 25 miles a day.
The trek had to be put on hold while the animals, a white Arab and five Highland ponies, went missing.