A HORSE-mad family have made sure their three pet ponies are more than just neighbours by giving them free rein of the house.
The pampered ponies regularly watch television inside the living room, drink water straight from the kitchen tap or nibble carrots in the pantry.
The miniature ponies, Star, four, Roanie, 10, and Hania, two, have their own stables outside but have been house trained by Heidi Northover, 46, and daughter Corinna, 16.
But the family have drawn the line at their fourth pony, Merlin, who is deemed too big for the house.
Their tolerance of the ponies being indoors began when one of the animals wandered in and swiped a sausage sandwich from the kitchen.
Ms Northover, from Derby, said: "They're just like big dogs really. They have stables and paddocks outside, but they just prefer to be inside with us, and it's nice to have them around the house.
"We're always worried that they will get stolen, they are just so cute so there's definitely a risk in leaving them outside.
"They're very much part of the family, we spoil them rotten. They mean the world to me."
The ponies, which measure between 31 and 34 inches - around eight hands - high, have roamed the house for three years.
Ms Northover added: "The ponies were allowed to roam around the back yard, and one day I left the back door open.
"I had made a sausage sandwich, and left it on the side, and when I came back, it had vanished, and there were hoof prints leading back out of the door.
'Our neighbours have horses too, so they understand, although I don't think they'd ever let their own horses inside.
'They are very house trained and don't cause a mess so my house is still clean. Although when we first got Hania she did have an accident, but she's never done it since.'
A life-long horse fan, Ms Northover passed on her passion for horses to Corinna, who now performs in hand showing.
Ms Northover owns her own management training company while providing for Corinna and her two siblings.
She said: 'The ponies mean the world to Corinna. She's always playing with them and will try and make as much time for them as she can.
'She's fully committed to them and wants to one day work full time as a trainer and groom.'
Corinna added: 'All my horses mean the world to me, they're my life. I had since I was nine years old and can't remember life before them so they really are everything to me.
'Hopefully they'll be my future too.'