Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ponies In The Sunshine!

Our happy Bodmin ponies grooming in the sunshine - thank you Hazel Ann and Graham!
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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pony Progress

Topsy's been having a very successful week, with lots of headcollar practice and we're very proud of her progress.

Today, making the most of the dry conditions we've been very busy.  A new volunteer, Lisa, came to visit us this morning and will hopefully be a new helper for the team.  Graham did a wonderful job of fixing one of our trusty wheelbarrows that has been out of action due to a puncture.  Tufty had some lotion applied to her face to try and keep any midges at bay, Topsy did some headcollar practice, Bobby went on a walk along with his friends Rocky and Frodo, and even Dan went on his own little walk and enjoyed a few mouthfuls of cow parsley and dandelion.

The chickens hitching a ride on the tractor's trailer!
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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Dead Ponies On Bodmin Moor

Following on from yesterday's blog about the Bodmin Ponies, you might be interested in this week's article by Horse and Hound http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/outcry-over-dead-ponies/

Again, equine identification is discussed:
"World Horse Welfare disagrees with hot branding but would like to see other methods used.  “Microchipping has to provide the solution, as it must be possible in the near future to be able to scan at a distance,” said chief executive Roly Owers. “In the meantime, alternatives such as the short-range reading of microchips and cutting manes and tails need to be relied upon.""

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Friday, 26 April 2013

Bodmin Ponies Dying Of Starvation - Is Hot Branding The Answer?... No!

Over the last couple of weeks, publicity has been given to the shocking story that at least 20 emaciated ponies have died or been shot on East Moor, part of Bodmin Moor.  The graphic photos display the piles of starved pony carcasses waiting to be loaded onto the disposal truck.  I know that we have children who follow this blog, and they would find the pictures distressing, so I'll post a link to the Daily Mail story at the end of this article that adults can read.

For Faye personally, this story is particularly distressing because she was working for a registered charity on East Moor in 2011 when the same situation was occurring.  She and her friend (and p4p volunteer) Gill spent many hours on East Moor surveying ponies.  They found 5 pony skeletons and ponies in very emaciated condition - getting the authorities to do anything was a nightmare...but with the help of the media enough public attention was gained that a huge rescue was undertaken by the authorities.  Defra surveyed all the ponies on the moor and Redwings gave sanctuary to all those in poor condition - about 20 ponies in all.  Cilla blogged about the situation on the p4p blog back in 2011  http://people4ponies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/httpwww.html

After the rescue in 2011, Defra promised to do regular surveys of the moors to ensure ponies in poor condition were removed, and they wrote to all farmers with ponies on Bodmin Moor explaining body condition scoring.  What happened in 2011 should have been a wake up call...BUT now this situation has arisen again...on exactly the same small, enclosed area of moorland...except this time no-one appears to have been monitoring or surveying ponies for things to have reached this state - the animals suffered and died...and no-one will take responsibility or be prosecuted for it.

Now the Commoners on Bodmin claim the answer to the problem is to hot brand the ponies on the Moor because they don't know who owns what!  What many people don't realise is that Bodmin Moor does not have a derogation - all the ponies should be microchipped but Defra doesn't enforce the law.  Hot branding is highly ineffective as a means of identification - brands are usually completely invisible in the winter months, sometimes ponies have to be shaved to try to find a visible brand in a summer coat.  Even when ponies have visible brands, owners of emaciated animals deny ownership...and prosecuting authorities say that a brand isn't proof of ownership.  Our 2 ponies from Bodmin Moor are classic examples of this - Topsy and Tufty had ear notches and hot brands - they were seized from Bodmin Moor in emaciated condition.   That was 14 years ago and the situation on Bodmin Moor obviously hasn't improved since then!  No prosecution was brought as their owner could not be traced! Topsy and Tufty's brands are only visible for a few months in the summer.

Microchipping is a permanent, reliable method of identification.  Commoners will claim they can't get close to a pony to scan for a microchip...but if you can get close enough to hot brand it, ear notch it, or shoot it, then you can get close enough to scan it for a microchip.  The majority of these ponies will end up as meat - and for that to happen legally, they must be microchipped.  Bodmin farmers who bring their wild ponies to market each autumn have their animals microchipped just before the sale.  They know that the market will scan the unhandled animals at the sale to make sure they are microchipped and passported.  If they are not, they are withdrawn from the sale by the auctioneers, and the owners reported to Defra/Trading Standards.

As Julie Dowton from the Commoners' Council states in the Daily Mail article "The long winter has meant farmers have had to spend more on feeding their animals, but added that there was "no excuse" for letting them starve".

Daily Mail article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309499/Dozens-ponies-Bodmin-Moor-starve-death-freezing-spring-weather-dumped-cruel-owners.html

Hot brand on a Dartmoor Hill Pony at least 1 week after the branding occurred

Topsy's brand not visible in her winter coat

Tufty's brand is not visible either!
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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Spring Weather Jobs

Tractor training...Is that a scary monster??
No, OK then, probably not a scary monster after all!

This week there have been lots of hints of spring about - at last the leaves on the trees are starting to appear, the ground has dried up, the Jackdaws are collecting fur from Tufty (by landing on her back to collect it - sorry but no photo of that yet!) and today our first swallows were sighted.

It's meant that we've been busy getting some of the bigger jobs done...last week Sara and Hazel-Ann helped to distribute the pea gravel in the yard...with Ted operating the tractor to save us from having to wheelbarrow it.  The pea gravel helps in 2 ways - firstly it's a "conformable surface" that's good for hooves - keeping them in good condition, and it's also nice and comfy/supportive for the ponies to stand on...secondly the ponies seem to think it's a good peeing area, which helps to keep the bedding costs down!
Sara helps with shovelling the pea gravel

Ted delivers the gravel to the entrance of the barn
The sun was out at the weekend, which was a good opportunity to rearrange the fencing in the main field.  It's time to restrict grazing before the grass gets too lush, so all the electric fencing needed rearranging and reinforcing to make sure there's a strong current running through it.  The older boys would stay in a set patch even if the electricity was off...but Frodo has a variety of techniques for escaping, so a lot of hard work has to go into sorting out the fencing and keeping a strong current running through it.

Ted did a super job of rolling the fields with the tractor, making it a lot easier for us to move about without having to negotiate all the hoof ruts.  It looks very smart too! The ponies' winter field will be shut off very shortly.  The terrible weather meant that it became impossible to poo-pick the winter field.  Now it will be chain harrowed and the sheep will graze on the pasture.  The good thing about the sheep is they will "cleanse" the pasture of horse worms.

Faye working with Topsy
Faye's been working more with Topsy again, and things are progressing nicely.  Tufty's definitely feeling well again and back to her normal self.  Her worm count test came back as 500epg which isn't too bad but she's been having wormer this week - the Verm-X will help her to boost her immune system as well as sorting out any worms.

With both Hazel-Ann and Graham volunteering today, we managed a 3 pony excursion.  We met quite a few tractors and a crop sprayer, but the ponies coped very well with them all.  Some pony grooming was also in order - summer coats are emerging and there is A LOT of thick winter coat to shed!

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tufty, The Poo Pickers Party...And Lots Of "Thank you"s!

Tufty's continued to improve over the last couple of days and is really enjoying her grazing arrangement.  She goes out at 6.30 in the morning and stays out on the grass all day.  We had the idea of trying her with some grass pellets as that should help her to keep eating through the night, and it means Faye doesn't have to handpick grass.  That was a big success, Tufty loves them.  Her worm count is high so she's started her wormer today.  She's looking very perky and Topsy seems much relieved this evening, now knowing that her best friend is OK.  Topsy loved the smell of the grass pellets too and ate them out of Faye's hand this evening.
Tufty "talking" to Hazel-Ann.  Notice the buckets full with manure!
 Yesterday Faye had a lovely surprise as Ted and Jenny and the volunteers had organised a p4p poo-pickers party to celebrate her birthday.  Faye knew nothing about it and after sorting out the ponies in the morning, she was absolutely exhausted after having very little sleep over the past 4 days.  Off she headed to bed and when she awoke, everything was ready for the party - volunteers had arrived, there was a lovely spread of food that everyone had contributed to and Gill had made one of her wonderful cakes.  Faye says thank you very much to everyone, it was a lovely party!  Tess the dog did very well coping with a room full of people and even Mabel the chicken briefly came to join in!

Gill's birthday cake creation - delicious!
We have so many more thank yous to say this week that it's probably best to put them all in a list!

A big THANK YOU to:
- Travis Perkins for giving us free delivery on the pea gravel that we had delivered this week.
- Graham for buying a bag of grass pellets for Tufty and for dashing to the feed store to get them before they
- Catherine for donating a huge bag of linseed for the ponies - apparently the ponies bought it themselves as a present to celebrate Faye's birthday...because if the ponies are happy, then Faye is!!!!
- Woodford Curtains for donating some blinds so that we can make a p4p banner for our upcoming stalls.
- Westgate Labs for giving us a discount on a worm count sample.
- Nikki at Twyfords for donating some "second hand" saddles for us to sell at our Brooke stand.
- Jane for donating some sugar beet for Tufty to try.
- Hilary for donating a feed toy for the ponies.
- Emma the vet at the Jonathon Wood practice for all her help with Tufty.
- And especially to Ted and Jenny who have looked after Faye all week, enabling her to look after Tufty...and they have printed our latest newsletters for us.

The latest newsletters are in the process of being sent out, so pony sponsors and p4p pony loaners should have theirs by the weekend!

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Monday, 15 April 2013

Tufty's Condition Has Improved!

Tufty had a really good night.  We've never been so pleased to see manure in the stable!  There were two lovely piles in the stable last night before I went to bed.  To make sure she was still eating, I hand-picked a bowl of cow parsley and grasses for her.  She ate a few pieces of cow parsley and then polished off the grass...so back out I went (at 1am!) with the torch to handpick a heaped bowl of picked grass.  When it arrived in the stable, Tufty ate all of it.

At 6.30am, she was looking fine and there were a couple more heaps in the stable.  I took her back out to her little enclosure and she happily tucked into the grass.

Emma the vet (who has been brilliant at following Tufty's case from the beginning) came back at midday.  As Tufty was looking so much brighter and everything internally seems to be working more normally, we were both happy for Emma to look at Tufty's teeth to see if she could be made more comfortable.

Having their teeth checked is quite a strange experience for a pony and Tufty had a little bit of sedation to help her cope and stay calm.  Actually, we are very pleased because she had a lot more teeth at the back of her mouth than we were expecting and they were in fairly good condition.  There's a wobbly tooth on the right side that isn't quite ready to come out yet, and on the upper left there were some large hooks that Emma was able to file down.

When Emma had finished, I sat with Tufty for a while for some quiet time whilst the sedative wore off.  After about 40 minutes she was back to being her perky self again.  I took her back out to her little field and she happily started chomping on grass straight away.  She's been out all afternoon and there were more heaps in the field...She's done really well and I'll keep monitoring her tonight and will hopefully put her back out in her field tomorrow morning...

Hazel-Ann captured this lovely photo yesterday of Tufty with Faye

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Tufty's Poorly...Day 2

Tufty was very perky this morning and displaying her normal characteristics...but there was a problem - there was fresh manure in the stable at 11pm last night, but no more was produced overnight and she'd eaten very little.   Now and then she might lie down and sometimes she'd have moments where she looked uncomfortable.  We called the vet who said she could come out to us after sorting out a difficult calving.  In the meantime, we thought we'd try and see if Tufty would eat some longer grass.  We picked her some cow parsley which she devoured in great handfuls and then we went into an area by the pond where the grass is lush.  Tufty tucked into the long grass.

We know her teeth are pretty bad at the moment and that is stopping her from eating properly...but if no manure is being produced, is that because there is a blockage in her intestines and no manure can be passed...or is it because Tufty isn't eating because her teeth are sore??  She still has good gut sounds, a normal temperature and a good "life-force" but we all need to hope that it's not a blockage.  We made an enclosure of electric fencing for her in the long grass - that way we know she can eat without the risk of falling in the pond!  The vet took bloods and all Tufty's results were pretty normal - liver results were good.  Only her red blood cell count was slightly low but nothing major and is to be expected with her feeling under the weather.

I've just been out to check Tufty and we do have fresh manure in the stable.  I'm just about to go and pick her some more cow parsley and grass.  Tomorrow the vet will come again...the plan is to give Tufty some sedation so they can take a good look at her teeth.

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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Tufty's Poorly!

Poor Tufty wasn't looking well this morning when I arrived at the yard.  Just coming up the driveway I could see that things didn't look quite "normal".  As I reversed to park, Tufty laid down on the wet concrete yard, not a normal behaviour for a pony.  By the time I reached the yard gate she was upright again but somehow she looked really thin all over.  I started doing the feeds and Tufty wasn't there - usually she stands outside the feed store door, first in the queue, willing her feed to come out first - but today she stood in the stable and hardly touched her breakfast...Time to call the vet!

Whilst waiting for Emma the vet to arrive, I acclimatized Tufty to some of the things a vet might do - "stabbing" her with a biro pen helps to replicate a needle being inserted but without causing any trauma, and an old computer lead that Jenny found helped me to replicate a stethoscope.  Emma thought that Tufty is looking good for her age and although Tufty wasn't her normal self, she was still perky and interactive.  She wasn't colicking.  Her guts were very noisy, which is good, but noiser than they should be.  Tufty stood so nicely to let Emma examine her, and to have her temparature taken - Tufty's temperature was normal so there's no sign of infection.  Topsy looked on over the stable door through out the examination...she was so worried about Tufty this morning.  She even walked up to Jenny and repeatedly touched her gently on the arm and shoulder with her nose almost asking for reassurance that Tufty would be OK.

Emma decided to administer Buscopan straight into the vein in Tufty's neck...and again, we are very proud of how well Tufty stood to let Emma administer the drugs.  The drugs last about 6 hours - this evening Tufty had another quick lie down in the yard and then saw me, got to her feet, and stood outside the self selection "cupboard" obviously indicating that she wanted something from in there.  She's had a good selection of plants and now I'm monitoring her closely for any signs that we need to call the vet out again...positive, healing thoughts for Tufty please...

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Press Releases...

The photos from the awards evening are now available...and we're starting to see the first articles about our award in the local media...we're in the Tiverton Gazette this week and the Mid Devon Star have been in touch too...there are more press releases going out so hopefully we'll get some more publicity for the work of p4p.

We also need to say thank you to Hazel-Ann and Graham for donating half of the ponies' supply of supplements for this month!

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

CEVA Award Winner...UK Volunteer Of The Year Award 2013!

Faye collecting her award from Marc Abraham - Media Vet and Pupaid Founder (Marc campaigns against puppy farming in the UK).  Screenshot taken from CEVA/Silverstream.tv footage from the evening)
Wednesday evening was the big CEVA Awards evening!  Vets, nurses, individuals working/volunteering for animals and animal charities are all recognised for their contributions to animals and animal welfare.  People4ponies volunteer Hazel-Ann nominated Faye for the "UK Volunteer of the Year Award 2013", and a few weeks ago we discovered Faye was chosen as a finalist...so yesterday evening 4 of us put on our posh frocks and headed up to Birmingham to the awards ceremony.

People4ponies volunteers ready for the award ceremony
It was a super evening - dinner before the awards ceremony...and then we had the main event - and very inspirational it was too.  There were 6 awards, each with four finalists, and CEVA and Silverstream.tv had done a fantastic job of producing short videos to show the work of each finalist.  Everyone there was united in their love for animals and their determination to make a difference.  Although individually we might sometimes feel like we are not doing enough, together we are achieving great things, and CEVA really helped us to appreciate and recognise this through their awards last night.

Faye won the UK Volunteer category...and actually won a raffle prize too, so as well as the amazing award itself, we have rather a substantial amount of champagne which was the raffle prize!

Follow this link to the CEVA website to see the inspirational videos for the finalists of each category:


Keep an eye out for Logan's story - what an inspirational young man who just goes to prove that you are never too young to make a difference!

We hope that Marc the vet will come to visit us whilst on his holidays this year!

We'd like to say to huge thank you to CEVA for running the awards and championing the work of the animal welfare workers...and to everyone who was at the event - keep up the amazing animal welfare work - you are all amazing and inspirational people.

Faye would also like to say a huge thank you to EVERYONE who is involved with p4p - volunteers and supporters because without all of their help, none of what we have achieved would have been possible by one person alone.

Extra thank yous to Catherine, Victoria, Sara, Mel and Graham for covering the ponies so that we could attend the ceremony, Margaret for her personal styling skills (it's not easy to get someone who's used to mud and wellies looking glamorous for an evening event) and Hazel-Ann for getting us to the awards and safely parked too!

Thank you to everyone at Twyfords Farm Supplies in Tiverton - today they donated a week's worth of feed and linseed so that the ponies can celebrate too!

Tufty checking out the award - back to "normal" clothing again!!
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Monday, 1 April 2013

Happy Easter!

Jeremy and Rowan
It's wonderful to hear that Jeremy and Rowan have been out on their first adventures together this weekend - out hacking, including a two hour ride on Easter Sunday...what a team!  We hear that Jeremy may have his own blog soon, so we look forward to reading it!

Back at our p4p main base, the cold weather continues and the ponies don't like venturing into the top field with the strong easterly wind blasting across it!  They are losing the outer, longer layers of their woolly winter coats so there is hope that "proper" spring will arrive soon.  All of them are enjoying having a good roll and graze out in the lower pasture and even Frodo is starting to look quite clean (though I shouldn't speak too soon).

I can just about get all 6 ponies in one photo! 

Grazing together sheltered from the easterly wind

Bobby's looking bright red at the moment...
...Dan's looking good too...

...And Frodo's looking remarkably clean!
Some of our regular volunteers have been away for Easter...so Margaret's been helping Faye with the extra mucking out...thank you Margaret!

Faye visited the LUSH shop in Exeter on Saturday and received a warm welcome from the team - they took a photo of Faye with the p4p charity pot and have posted the photo on their Facebook page!  It was lovely to meet the team and we promise to let them know how we do on Wednesday...

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