Friday, 31 May 2013

New Stable Doors!

Ted and Jenny have very kindly arranged for new doors for the ponies' stable in the yard...making it look very smart indeed.  Here's Frodo testing it out...he still just tall enough to see over the door!

The lovely weather just couldn't be more welcome!  It's so nice to finally be able to be outside and not feel cold or wet, it's short sleeve weather for today at least!

Sara came yesterday and was very keen to continue her drain clearing mission.  Several of the drains were full with mud that came off the fields during the winter (and spring!) - it's not the most glamorous of jobs to clear them out and we're grateful to Sara for her work.

Ted and Faye finished putting accounts onto the computer and we're seeing the benefits of computerisation with all the in-detail analysis at the click of a button.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Bank Holiday Weekend

 Hazel-Ann and Graham took some nice photos of the ponies this weekend.  They also had a productive weekend as they found someone in need of well rotted manure for their garden.  The ponies' manure heap from last year is very well rotted and is perfect organic material for gardens...and is chemical free too as the ponies do not have chemical wormers.  Hazel-Ann and Graham's bag filling was well rewarded with a donation for the ponies.

Frodo and Topsy together in the yard


Frodo - the ponies still have some winter coat because it's still too chilly to declare summer yet!

Bobby on the move

Ponies grazing between the buttercups
The volunteers are getting ready for our p4p stall at Twyfords in Tiverton on Saturday...and Frodo's been invited to take part in the St. John's Fayre parade in a few weeks time, which we are excited about!

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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Munch's Homecheck...And This Week's Happenings

Yesterday we went to visit Munch to see how he's getting on at his new home.  Pete and Stella have done a good job of staying on top of his weight.  Munch is the same weight as he was when he left he's lost a bit of winter fur and put on a tiny bit of weight...but that's very good considering Munch lives up to his name in terms of his appetite.  He's laminitis free at the moment and sound on large railway type gravel.  Hopefully Stella will be able to get out with Munch a bit more and enjoy riding along the Devon lanes!

Munch on the move!

Earlier in the week we had a bit of a challange...The ponies' quarterly shipment of bedding was due to arrive...but early on Tuesday morning, the lorry driver rang to say that although we'd specified a 7.5 tonne lorry to make the delivery (to fit down the lanes), the driver had been sent out with the bedding on his 26 tonne lorry (eek!).  Ted, Jenny, Hazel-Ann and Graham soon had the situation under control.  The lorry driver managed to drop the delivery at the bottom of the driveway.  Thankfully he managed to catch his trolley and it's load of bedding because it rolled off down the hill whilst he was operating the tail-lift controls!  With Ted on the tractor and Hazel-Ann and Graham in charge of loading and stacking, the delivery was stored away in no time at all.

Making first contact with Topsy

Getting ready for headcollaring
Topsy's coping well without dear Tufty.  She has settled well and is very comfortable with her companions.  Faye has worked with Topsy again this week.  Topsy still has a particularly strong trauma trigger half way down her nose where the headcollar noseband sits.  The triggers on the end of her nose have pretty much disappeared now but there's still a way to go until they are all overcome.

We're looking forward to reading an article about p4p and our campaigning work in the Veterinary Nursing Times - thanks to Assistant Editor, Emma Cooper, who got in touch this week for an interview!

We must say another thank you to Ted, because he and Faye spent the majority of today computerising the p4p accounts.  We've been wanting to do this for a while so it's great to have it very nearly finished!

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Puffin's Homecheck


Yesterday, Hazel-Ann and Faye went to visit one of our p4p ponies who is out on loan.  Puffin was one of the foals from the original group.  He went to his loan home when he was two years old...he's nine now and so he's all grown up!  Puffin is companion to a gorgeous donkey called Beth...what is it about donkeys that just makes your heart melt???

Faye had never met Puffin before because he had already been rehomed before she started volunteering at p4p.  Looking at the "grown up" Puffin, he has some striking resemblances to Rocky and we wonder if perhaps they are related?

Beth the donkey enjoys having a scratch...hence the flopped over ears and wiggly nose!
Puffin did have a massage too, we promise!

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Saturday, 18 May 2013

"Coming To Terms"

The last few days we've been helping Topsy to come to terms with Tufty's passing.  Topsy's doing really well and is coping with such a big change - she and Tufty had been very close companions for such a long time.  Both Rocky and Frodo have been looking after Topsy during the daytime and both ponies will share haynets with her.  Topsy is happy to be with the herd of boys and thankfully over the last 4 weeks Tufty had been helping Topsy to become more independent.  We do miss Tufty but we know that it was her time to go, and it wasn't a moment too early or late.

We're being really careful with laminitis prevention at the moment - the greenery is shooting up and the lovely weather today will lead to very high sugar levels in the grass.  For those ponies with a very restricted amount of grazing in the field, we try to keep them happy with herbs from the hedgerow - dandelions, cleavers, thistles and cow parsley all make delicious and healthy snacks for the ponies.

Beate (who has Legend, a fell pony who was helped by p4p) came to visit on Thursday and enjoyed seeing the ponies and meeting Kes the dog who has been staying with us.
Beate's visit - Kes the dog is so tall, he's nearly pony size!
We are very grateful to the "Knights of Witheridge" group who kindly donated £100 to people4ponies this week...thank you!

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Goodbye Tufty


Our beautiful girl Tufty was put to sleep late yesterday evening.  We've had a really tough few days.  She colicked again on Sunday and we had the vet out again - Tufty was still perky and had gut sounds on both sides.  The vet warned that it was possible that she might have a pendunculated lipoma but we were all agreed that Tufty should have some more drugs to see if the colic, or possible blockage, would pass.  As soon as she'd had the drugs, Tufty was back to eating again and feeling more comfortable.  We thought she was through it on Sunday night when she passed some manure.  

On Monday she had a lovely day (without need for pain relief) in the field with her friends and had a day enjoying life as a normal pony.  In the evening when she came in from the field just before 9pm she was uncomfortable and within an hour was in immense pain.  The vet came and confirmed this.  Tufty's heart rate was incredibly high, and she had no gut sounds on one side.  She wasn't our Tufty - something was very wrong and I think she was very clear that it was time to go.  It was really tough but it was what she wanted and she had a wonderful last day.  She went peacefully and with dignity and I know she had a really wonderful 7 months with us...we loved her very much, I know she felt loved and that we felt like home to her.  She was such a good pony and with all the vets who came she knew we were trying to help her.

Tufty's been such a strong character in our yard - always first at the feed store door for breakfast and although she was considered "elderly" in the horse world (probably mid 30s!), I don't think she ever felt old...she was certainly more than capable of telling the boys "what for".  She'd transformed in health since she first arrived with us, and we were so pleased that she wasn't showing any signs of sweet-itch this year - we've all enjoyed seeing her with a lovely mane and tail.  

These past 4 weeks Tufty really enjoyed her privileges of having her own lush grazing in the goose field and doing a wonderful job of grazing the pathways and banks in Jenny's garden.  She's also helped Topsy to feel more independent too.  Topsy and Tufty have been best friends for a long time and Tufty's laid back nature was always reassuring to Topsy.

We've been helping Topsy to cope with Tufty's passing and she's been so brave and is doing really well...Tufty will definitely always be in our hearts and I feel that we did everything just right for her at the end.

Thank you everyone who has sent text messages and emails of support for us - and a big thank you to Ted and Jenny - they have been a tremendous support to Faye through this weekend, and even accommodated Kes the dog who is staying with Faye at the moment.

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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Tufty Has Colic Again

This morning was another one of those mornings when I arrived at the yard and something wasn't right...Tufty didn't look right at all.  The weather has gone from being spring to autumnal again and she was a bit chilly.  Some warm rugs helped her to warm up but she still wasn't right.  She ate some grass very half-heartedly and didn't touch the soaked grass pellets at all.  She started lying down for short periods and she was in some pain.  It's nearly a month since she was ill and she's put on a good amount of weight since then and been so sprightly - we had thought we were doing so well.

Wendy the vet had read up on Tufty's notes before she came out.  Tufty's symptoms were quite similar to before - no temperature, heart rate not too elevated (40 beats a minutes so within normal parameters) and gut sounds on both sides.  She's still quite interactive when she's not well.  The vets think that Tufty might have a lipoma that can get twisted around the intestine - it causes pain when it twists and then once it's untwisted she goes back to normal again. Apparently it's quite common in older ponies.  If that is what it is, she might just have random periods when she gets belly ache and then goes back to normal again when it untwists.  Tufty had Buscupan and Findyne (anti-inflammatory and pain killer) straight into the vein in her neck.  Within about 30 seconds she was back to enthusiastically eating her grass pellets and feeling normal again.

Tufty's been out in Jenny's garden all afternoon eating grass and getting gentle exercise.  She has a buffet style dinner in the stable tonight with plenty of options - soaked hay, hand-picked grass, and soaked grass pellets with chaff.  Jenny's kept Tufty provisioned the last couple of hours so now we'll have to see how Tufty feels tomorrow.

A big thank you to Margaret for coming over to help...she actually ended up doing all the mucking out for me.  Sara came later to help too.  Margaret also kindly gave a donation to help pay for Tufty's vet bill from last month.  We are very grateful to Jonathan Wood Vets in Crediton who have provided us with an excellent service and have kept prices affordable too.

Healing thoughts again for Tufty please!

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Wild Pony Handling Video

Following on from our Tuesday post, I thought it would be nice to post this video taken in 2009...a few years ago now.  It was never originally intended to be on YouTube, but Al did such a good job filming and producing it, p4p were keen to share makes a nice record of our work.  There's a commentary on the main YouTube page. Obviously Paul is joking when he talks about "chasing" the ponies - it's just that our "round-ups" are much quieter than the traditional moorland ones...definitely no chasing of ponies!

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Bank Holiday Pony Round-Up

Bank holiday Monday was the date of our annual round-up of our sponsor ponies Star, Misty and Breeze.  They live on a beautiful Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve on the north Devon/Cornwall coast - they are such lucky ponies and have an amazing variety of plants...perfect natural self selection!

It takes a lot of organisation to arrange the round-up and we are very grateful to our regular volunteers as well as to our friends Vanessa, Phillip, Rowan, and Frank our lovely farrier.

I think this is the 5th time that we have rounded up ponies from the reserve...Misty and Star are two of our traumatised ponies so life on the reserve is perfect for them - they would be very unlikely to find homes and on the reserve they have very little contact with people and get to live as "wild" ponies in a natural environment.  Breeze is one of the "grown up" foals from the original herd - he was born with a lameness which doesn't cause him pain but would make him unsuitable as a ridden pony.  The ponies definitely get used to the routine of the round up and the route.  There's no chasing of ponies - it's all done on foot and as calmly as possible.  We drift them to a pen which we make from panels, constructed at the top of the site...except this year there was a problem!  We'd been told the key to the gate that we use to access the reserve would be in its usual location...but when we got there it was missing.  We searched high and low and the key could not be found anywhere.  It's a 3 hour round journey from our base to get to the site and a lot of work to organise all the people involved.  Rather than abandoning the whole event, a "plan B" was formed.

The panels were moved to a position in front of the gate but the new area would be too small to enclose 3 ponies safely.  Thankfully we'd put some orange net fencing in the car which we could use as sides of our pen.  Volunteers were positioned at key points along the path.  Vanessa caught Breeze up and led him up the main path.  Misty and Star followed behind with some gentle drifting.  Unfortunately they encountered some German tourists on the way up the path, this caused the ponies to divert, but thankfully they came back down to the main path again.

Misty and Star were headcollared.  All the ponies were in super condition - they've managed really well considering the incredibly wet winter.  This site has such a variety of environments, there are lots of places for them to take shelter.  Frank trimmed the ponies' feet - their hooves were looking wonderful, just a little long at the front but no major trimming was needed.

The reserve is a beautiful location...we'd love to live here!

Frank, our farrier, trimming Star
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Monday, 6 May 2013

Self Selection Video

Hazel-Ann managed to catch this video of Topsy and Tufty in action self-selectioning.  We thought you might like to see some of the reactions the ponies have when they are choosing oils or herbs:

Tufty isn't yawning because she's tired...what she has been offered has resulted in emotional release(s), and yawning is one of the ways that horses do this.  Topsy curling her lip in response to the same offering (also known as the flehmen response) allows her to take in the properties of what she has chosen...well done Hazel Ann for capturing the selections on video!

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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fiona Habershon's Self Selection Day

Fiona (with her boxes of herbs, minerals and essential oils) guides us through self selection for the ponies
We are extremely grateful to Fiona Habershon for donating her day to people4ponies today!  We learn so much when Fiona comes and I have to admit that by brain is still whirring around trying to process all the information and new things we've learnt!  We've been very dedicated to self-selection since Fiona's last visit and today the aim was to refine what we are doing - making sure that the ponies are able to select exactly what they need in the most beneficial way possible.

We also found that we are missing some of the things the ponies really need and Fiona very kindly donated some dandelion root (which was chosen by all the ponies), flax oil and yarrow and german chamomile essential oils.
Topsy self selecting nettle from Fiona's hand.  Fiona notices how much Topsy has grown in confidence since her last visit.

Establishing whether ground linseed or linseed oil is the best option for the ponies.
Thank you so much Fiona for all your help!  And thank you to Jenny and Ted too for preparing lunch for us all today!

Fiona's website is:

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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Jeremy Enjoying The Spring Weather!

Thanks to Anita and Rowan for sending this photo of Jeremy (and Tilly just behind!) - they report that Jeremy's doing really well.

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