GOOD Samaritans cornered three loose ponies which galloped through oncoming traffic on the A31 on Monday night.

Homeowners in East Dorset opened their gardens as corrals for the animals, while police closed part of the carriageway over fears for motorists' safety.

However, thanks to the quick actions of volunteers, the pets were soon returned to their field.

Amy Frost, who runs equine podcast HorseHour, said helpers rallied after learning of the escape through the Dorset Equestrian Facebook group.

"There was such a good response to it," she said.

"I think that really might have saved lives. People were offering help and suggesting where to take the horses."

The ponies - two Shetlands and a larger animal - galloped into traffic on the A31 near Ringwood before cantering along Oaks Drive in St Leonards.

They were finally cornered in St Ives, where residents opened their garden gates to help.

Amy, who brought head collars for the ponies, said: "We had to separate them out because they were so traumatised and agitated.

"Police were there helping too. A man called Stuart from Eastworth Horse Transport in Verwood brought along a horsebox to take them all back to their field.

"It was such a great response from the equestrian community and the police. It was very calm and organised and everything was dealt with so quickly."

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: "We were called at 7.25pm on Monday to reports of loose horses on the A31 at the Ashley Heath roundabout.

"A pony and two Shetland ponies were on the carriageway heading against traffic.

"To ensure the safety of motorists officers attended with the owner to secure the horses. The A31 was closed for a short time while we did this.

"The horses were secured shortly before 7.55pm."