Saturday, 27 February 2010

More Mousey

Here are the promised pictures - firstly, Paul just clipping the lead rope on to her headcollar. She has a piece of carrot to help, and takes it very gently. This is great progress! In the other picture Paul is asking her to lift her hind foot, which she does. The rope is loose; she could move away if she wanted to. Paul is now able to groom more of her and she is looking much tidier and cleaner. The next big milestone will be when the headcollar can be removed and replaced.

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Friday, 26 February 2010

Windy Friday

I was just letting Mousey out to the pen first thing this morning when it occured to me to offer her a piece of carrot, and after a couple of doubtful head shakes, she took it! Quite carefully in fact. So I am the second person here to interact with her.

Every day she is increasingly confident with Paul. Whilst grazing, out on their walk today, there was a sudden gust of wind which caused her to leap away. That's the first time on the lead that she's tested the boundaries, but Paul held firm as always and she was calmly grazing again a second later.

I'll try and take some pics. tomorrow.

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Monday, 22 February 2010

Catching Mousey

It's lovely to be able to report progress with Mousey. Yesterday Paul was elated at having clipped onto her headcollar, in the pen, after Mousey tentatively accepted a piece of carrot from his hand. No hook stick, rope or anything. To make a change from going for a walk he then took her to the back 'lawn'... (it was a lawn, and will be again one day, but at the moment looks like a mole infested pony paddock).

We all went to pick up manure after that, of which there was two days worth, and when we came back Paul went to check on Mousey and she wasn't there! Good job we had three volunteers here whom we immediately despatched up and down the lane. Grabbed mobile phones and ropes, rang the neighbour to alert them and quickly set up the stable, yard and driveway so it was all open in case we would be drifting her back in.

Paul and Gill went up the lane and Paul soon spotted Mousey grazing on a lovely grassy area, enclosed from the road, belonging to another neighbour. I went to help and Mousey trotted into a concrete yard and turned to face Paul. He approached her in the appropriate non-confrontational manner and did exactly what he had already done that morning and she accepted carrot and then rope in the same way!! We were so pleased with her. In a strange place too. Though it did look as if she she was anxious, being away from familiar surroundings, and maybe is beginning to see Paul as a safe place. So she was led home, with the other volunteers following up.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mousey's feet

Just a little update on Mousey. Paul has lifted up her front feet and picked them out today. He says they are really good; hard as iron, and need no trimming. He has been working up to this over the past few days but it hasn't been a big problem. He doesn't even need to hold her rope.

Not so with actually clipping a lead rope onto her headcollar. She is so frightened of hands near her face. Paul will usually make contact with his hand on her neck - she backs round into him, but he stands his ground, maybe scratches her rump and then hooks onto her neck strap with his longer stick. She yields to this pressure and Paul can then reach under her face and clip onto the headcollar. Her reaction to the slightest touch on her nose or face can be explosively violent.

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Wednesday, 10 February 2010


At long last Mousey can be taken for a walk, on the lead. This can be accomplished because she now has a headcollar on. She is able to graze; not all traumatised ponies will do this so close to a predator the like of which has hurt them in the past, but Mousey has been with us for months now and has become used to Paul standing close by her.

Pre-headcollaring, he had stroked her neck and body, though only on her right hand side. This had been achieved with hours of patient work and a good deal of calm confident energy; Mousey has learnt that a kick will deter potential handlers and she will swing her rump with lightning speed and back up; she does this to Paul but he is now able to call her bluff and stands there with her backed up against him. However all the technique in the world was never going to allow a hand to get to her head, face or muzzle to put a headcollar on and there is precious little one can do to help her without that so we were at a standstill with her progress.
Mousey has two serious wounds; the top has been cut off her right ear, and a plastic tag punched through her left ear. As well as being forcibly held by men she may well have had her muzzle gripped when she was so physically abused. She may be in her late teens now and this experience has left her so frightened of humans that she cannot have her teeth checked, her feet attended to or be given any routine care. She has always been owned; luckily now by a charity who want her to overcome her fears, which is why she has come to us.
The headcollaring was achieved 2 days ago and we 'crushed' Mousey to do it. We used the mesh panels of the pen that she is used to - there is a good deal of 'give' in them so it was a secure hold. It took about half an hour for Paul firstly to desensitise her head as much as possible with his hands and then with much fiddling to work the headcollar throught the mesh and into place.
I held the panels closed at the rear end. Mousey moved backwards and forwards, several times, but she didn't panic, didn't try to go up or thrash with her feet. Before she was released Paul clipped on a long rope so that he could pick up the end once she was out of the crush. He then began to help her learn to yield to pressure and to begin leading lessons.

We have a long way to go with Mousey but we hope for steady progress as we daily repeat the message to her that humans will not hurt her again.

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Sunday, 7 February 2010

Goodbye Billy Boy

Billy Boy, the Exmoor stallion, has today gone home to his mares. His owner came last week to fetch him but the blizzard conditions that we experienced here on January 31st. made it too dangerous to attempt the return journey with Billy Boy. So he has had a week longer with us, and has really benefited from the extra time because Paul has been able to hold his back feet and tidy them up with the rasp, comb out his tail and generally get him more accustomed to being handled. They also did some loading practice with our trailer, so when BB was collected he walked into the trailer on the lead, having always been loose loaded before.
We've had him here about 4 months, and to start with were doubtful about our chances of successfully turning him into a handle-able pony. He was absolutely terrified of humans attempting to touch him, and was quite prepared to defend himself if he couldn't escape. Paul has made wonderful progress but BB has not got to the stage where other handlers can begin to interact with him. We have suggested that he should not be handled, as his sharp behaviour may easily be misconstrued as threatening. Billy Boy seems to use his ears more, and quicker, than usual and will lay them flat back at a stranger but flicking forward as he turns to Paul. Back again as Paul's hand approaches his face but forward once the contact is made.
We're pleased to think how joyful Billy will be at regaining his freedom (he had to make do with walks and the garden here) and if he has a welfare issue at any time in the future he should cope with it better, especially if Paul is summoned to help with the handling as we suggested.
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