Saturday, 29 June 2013


Today Faye went to visit Jeremy and his fosterers Anita and Rowan.  Jeremy is very happy in his new home and we are delighted that he will now be on permanent loan with them.  He doesn't usually reside in this field...apparently this morning he worked out how to undo the latch on the pony field gate and decided to take his friend Tilly to go visiting to the next door field with the Highland cows!  Rowan's been doing lots of riding with Jeremy and has been doing some ground work with him too, including jumping poles.  With the summer holidays approaching, I'm sure they are going to be very busy indeed!

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ted's New Tractor Has Arrived

Yesterday Ted's new compact tractor arrived...and it's very smart too with a shiny red link box on the back.  Ted says that we should be able to borrow it to help with the hay making, and with the poo picking in the field too!

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Neil Parish MP On Hot Branding Of Equines

Our thanks go to our local MP, Neil Parish, who raised the subject of hot branding at Prime Ministers Questions in Parliament last week.  Neil asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals on the hot branding of horses and ponies and if he will make a statement.

This was the response to Neil's question:

"There are no proposals to amend the existing legislation relating to hot branding.  While the Government accepts that there is currently a need for semi-wild moorland ponies to be hot branded, we have asked the semi-wild moorland pony societies to prepare a code of practice on hot branding and to continue to look for suitable alternatives".

Our campaign for a ban on hot branding continues...Defra's view is not supported by veterinary and welfare organisations in the UK.  All groups agree that microchipping should now be compulsory and hot branding should be banned.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013


Thank you very much to Carole Coleman of The Witheridge Voice for sending through this photo from the parade yesterday.  Carole has constructed a lovely slideshow with lots of photos of St John's Fayre 2013 on the Witheridge Voice website - it's a great record of the day!

Frodo didn't seem tired at all today and has done a bit of rolling in the mud so he's definitely not clean anymore!!

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

St John's Fayre...Frodo's Big Day Finally Arrived!

Today was the big day we've been preparing for.  Quite a few p4p volunteers had a very early start today.  The ponies did look a bit surprised to see activity at the yard so early this morning.  Frodo did quite well overnight and only managed to get one splodge of dirt on him, which was shampooed out very quickly.  We put on his new boots and headcollar and then the heavens opened...a torrential downpour left Frodo trying to tuck himself into a building for cover.  Thankfully it was just a shower, but we thought it was probably best for him to wear his rug to walk to Witheridge in case of more unfavourable weather.  We were actually very lucky...although it definitely wasn't sunny, the weather wasn't too bad, and certainly not the worst weather we've encountered!  We were quite pleased to have taken the rug because the red rug made Frodo more visible to road users.

Whilst Frodo was on the way to Witheridge with one team of volunteers, in Witheridge itself, another group of p4p volunteers was setting up and arranging the fundraising stall.  With the strong winds, it was quite a challenge to get the gazebo safely put up.

Frodo arrived in Witheridge in plenty of time for the parade so he could trim some grasses and overgrown hedges for the residents whilst he was waiting.  This year he was programmed between the Penny Farthing, Fell Pony and Majorette Dancers in the parade.  Witheridge was absolutely teaming with people, vehicles, lots of loud music, steam vehicles, a fun fair, drummers, dancers etc and Frodo is very good at taking it all in his stride.  Waiting about has never been one of his strong points but once he's underway in the parade and has a purpose he does a very good job.  Victoria and Sara were our banner bearers to lead the way for Frodo.  At the end of the parade Frodo had quite a stream of admirers and young people who wanted to come and stroke him and take pictures.

After Frodo's public relations session, his job was done.  After saying thank you to everyone, he headed back up the high street for a quick munch on some long grass before the journey home.  He probably walked between 7-8 miles today, so it's not surprising that he was looking a bit weary by the time he was back at the yard!

Thank you very much to everyone who came out and supported us today and helped with the stall or getting Frodo to and from the parade!  The stall raised £102.75 for the ponies.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Frodo's Bath And Final Preparations...

Friday was Frodo's bathing day...I'm not sure that he was all too convinced that it was a good idea, but he does need to look smart for his duties tomorrow.  One of the disadvantages of being white is that the dirt really does show...and Frodo does love to roll in the mud.  Catherine came to help with the bathing and brought lots of shampoo and a lovely Frodo sized rug - it was definitely quite chilly today and not at all ideal weather for having a bath, so the rug helped Frodo to stay warm afterwards.  Topsy thought Frodo looked a bit scary and Rocky postured towards Frodo as if greeting a pony for the first time.  This afternoon Faye took the rug off and Frodo does look quite white now that he's dry...the question is, will he still look like that in the morning??!!
Frodo looking smart wearing his new rug
Frodo this afternoon, definitely looking clean so far...
New p4p banner and flags
 Another of the major tasks that Faye has been working this week is designing and producing a new banner and flags for the p4p fundraising stalls.  Earlier in the year we were kindly donated a couple of blinds by Woodford Curtains so that we could produce our own banner.  The finished items look great...and thank you Ted for his help with putting in the was definitely worth all the effort.

We have lots of helpers on stand-by for tomorrow...let's keep our fingers crossed for reasonable weather for St John's Fayre...

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Frodo's Boots Have Arrived!

Just as Easycare promised, Frodo's special boots arrived by courier this morning!  It's amazing that the boots were in Arizona on Thursday and today they arrived in rural Devon.  He does look very smart indeed wearing them.  Frodo wasn't quite sure wearing them for the first couple of steps and then he was fine and mooched around in the yard quite happily.  He'll need to have a bath on Friday and then he'll be all ready for his big adventure to be a VIP (Very Important Pony!) in the Witheridge Parade on Saturday!

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Bobby's Bath

I thought we should have some photos of Bobby on here, particularly for Hazel-Ann who will be missing him as she's away on her holidays at the moment.  Bobby had a bath this morning - one drawback of using the neem to keep the midges and flies at bay, is that the layers of oil build up and become quite sticky.  After a few weeks of oil, a bath of seaweed and neem shampoo helps to get rid of the stickiness and then we can start all over again.

Thank you Catherine for helping!

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Saturday, 15 June 2013

Squirrelling About

I just have to post the video of a young squirrel I was watching at lunchtime today.  We were all amazed with his skill - hanging upside down to raid the bird table...but secured by only the tips of his toenails!!

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thanks to the USA...

I need to say thank you to the Easycare Company in Arizona who have been fantastic today.  We have been trying to order Frodo some front hoof boots...he's got a long walk in a week's time to be a star in the parade at St John's Fair, and to make sure he can cope with the distance ok (he hasn't been this far in a very long time...or possibly ever!) hoof boots will make sure he'll do the distance.  Over two weeks, 2 well known UK companies haven't delivered what they promised and it has been a very disappointing experience in customer service.  One phone call to Easycare HQ in Arizona this afternoon and a very helpful representative put us at ease and resolved our problems.  Frodo is having his boots sent out from the USA express delivery so that they will arrive on Monday...that should allow him to have a practice before his big adventure on the 22nd! Thank you Easycare!

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News From Europe

Thanks to our volunteers who are holidaying in Europe, we have some updates about hot branding has been banned in Germany and Austria for approximately a year now.  Italy are in the process of getting it hopefully other European countries will soon follow suit.  The other countries that have already banned the hot branding of equines are: Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  It's great to see that this issue is being taken seriously by so many governments across Europe.

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Is The Hay Ready Yet??

We've lost all the beautiful sunshine, but we are quite keen for a refill of the water butts as our supplies are running low...although just a quick refill would be fine, and then we'd like the sunshine back please!    It's rained a bit today and there should be a little more tomorrow.  We've got a few volunteers away on holiday at the moment so Margaret's been doing extra shifts to help Faye - Sunday in particular was our "big" mucking out day for the barn.   

We've been experimenting with feeding time too - by putting lots of small piles of hay in the yard, the ponies have to keep moving around (which is good for their feet) and strangely it seems to make the hay ration last for longer too.

Quite a few people have asked about the hay and if we've made it yet...Although you might have seen lots of tractors out in Devon cutting grass, that has been for silage for cows.  The cold spring really held up the growth of the grass so hay crops are far from being ready.  Although the warm weather with a drying wind is perfect hay-making weather, there's not enough grass yet and our crop still needs to "bottom up".  The last couple of weeks have seen a spurt in growth so everything's heading in the right direction.  We're always in need of more volunteers for helping to bring the hay in from the fields once it's please do get in touch if you could be on call for an evening of "haymaking" in July/August...refreshments are provided!  Thank you very much to Laura who donated many bottles of squash this week in preparation - we like to make sure we have enough supplies to keep our hay making workers happy!
Hay field...we need all this grass to "bottom up" so we can make hay for the ponies for the winter

Fingers crossed for just the right weather!

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BBC4 - Storyville: Buck The Real Horse Whisperer

There was a very good documentary on BBC4 last week about Buck Brannaman "The Real Horse Whisperer".  Very interesting to watch...and thankfully it's on iplayer so it's still available to watch for the next couple of weeks if you missed it...or if you want to watch it again.  I certainly have!  Really fascinating to watch and compare/contrast/analyse with our work and concepts at p4p.  Obviously Buck is a real master.  Buck learnt from some of the well known names in horsemanship and gained his reputation from starting wild colts so there's lots of fascinating footage.  The documentary itself is very well put together and easy to watch, and from researching on the internet, it looks like it gained lots of awards for the film makers:

"Storyville: Documentary following horse whisperer Buck Brannaman from a painful childhood to his inspiring work as a trainer. It may be the stuff of Hollywood legend, but the cowboy who inspired the novel and film is very real. Buck - master horseman, raconteur and philosopher - is a no-excuses cowboy who travels the world sharing a hard-won wisdom that is often more about human relationships than about horses.
As Buck says, 'Often instead of helping people with horse problems, I'm helping horses with people problems.' He possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses - and people - with his deep understanding, compassion and respect". 

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Friday, 7 June 2013


On my way home yesterday I was lucky enough to see this herd of deer relaxing in the sunshine.  They were a little way in the distance  - the herd was aware I was there but settled quite quickly.  There was a tractor in the neighbouring field busily cutting grass for silage but the deer seemed completely unphased by it!

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Apologies to anyone who received spam email from the people4ponies email account yesterday - thankfully I managed to discover the problem within 45 minutes of someone on Lithuania having accessed the account!  What a nightmare!  With the help of a customer services operator from Yahoo! in America we were back to normal operating again quite quickly.  Strangely though, there's a rather surprising result to the problem...we've had no spam in the ponies' account today so it seems that when the spammers get sent spam emails themselves (presumably they got it too!) they are not quite so keen!

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Glorious Sunshine

It's soooooo good to have such hot sunny weather...we've spent so much of the last year knee deep in mud, surviving the cold by wearing 7 layers of clothing (at least!) and of course the essential woolly hat, and at times we've wondered whether it was ever going to stop raining!  It's just wonderful to have some June like weather in June!

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bisto Update

We've had an email today with a lovely update about Bisto from his owner Rachel:

"I just wanted to give you an update on Bisto (Busy). He has had a very busy few years, teaching my daughter to ride and then when Jess grew out of him Bisto went to live with a friend of mine for 2 1/2 years to teach her children to ride, off doing pony club events, beach ride and having a great time of it, now that they have grown out of him I had the chance to have him home again and I am now breaking him to drive, i coudnt bare for him to leave me again. He is taking to it so well that im expecting to have him driving by August, he is my pride and joy and im very proud of him."

What a wonderful report - we're so pleased that he's doing so well!

I'm sure Cilla will correct me on the details of this if I'm wrong, but Bisto was one of the first ponies at Horseford Farm in the very early days of the p4p project.  His Mum, Girlie, was one of the original wild herd ponies - she had caught their attention in the herd field because she was heavily pregnant but, worryingly, was in extremely poor condition.  Very concerned for her, Paul and Cilla managed to bring her back to the farm.  The vet wasn't sure if Girlie would make it or not, but he was keen to try to save Girlie and the soon to be foal.  No sooner had all that happened, that Girlie gave birth to Bisto, a tiny but perfectly formed foal.  I've managed to find some photos from 2003 of the young Bisto.  Very cute!

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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Wolfie's Visit

Scooter and Wolfie were fast asleep when we arrived!

Waking up and having a roll!

Wolfie and Helen with Scooter following on behind
Today Hazel-Ann and Faye went to visit Wolfie, who is one another of the p4p loan ponies.  It was really good to see Wolfie again - he's looking really great and has come on such a lot.  He used to be one of the more nervous ponies, and was actually one of the first ponies Faye interacted with on her first ever day at p4p.  Helen, his loan mum, was already interested in him then but he would only ever let Paul or Cilla catch him and no-one they worried that he might not be able to go on loan.  When Faye visited p4p on her first day she caught Wolfie and there was hope that he would be able to go out on loan after all.

Wolfie's been with his family and companion horse Scooter for about 7 years now and is clearly very comfortable and happy in his home.  The horses' field is alongside the river Taw and the horses have access to it - apparently Wolfie goes into the deeper parts of the river to cool off and stay out of the flies in the summer!  There are also a couple of ponies nearby on the other side of the river that they go downstream to visit sometimes!

Helen and Wolfie are clearly a great match and he's much more confident now and comfortable about being around people.  Helen's due to retire from her job soon and she's looking forward to spending more time with the horses.

Meeting Wolfie Again

Handsome Boy!

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Saturday, 1 June 2013

Twyford's Open Day

The weather stayed fine today for the Twyford's Open Day in Tiverton and Gill and Margaret were all organised for our p4p stall.  Hazel-Ann and Graham were on hand this morning to help with the setting up of the stall and gazebo.  Twyfords have been a great help to us - keeping us supplied with our horse feed and equipment and we are very grateful to them for inviting us to have our stall today.  We really enjoyed watching the "dogmanship" displays from the North Devon Working Gun Dogs, particularly with multiple dogs working at the same time.  The dogs were focussed and were looking for the direction from their owners, and they were impressive at avoiding the intentionally placed distractions.  Lots of parallels that we can appreciate from our horsemanship and I could have definitely spent more time watching them!

The tombola was particularly popular on the p4p stall today and thank you to everyone who took part...our stall raised £90.50!
Fun dog show!
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Happy Birthday Jeremy!

Anita and Rowan have sent us some lovely photos of Jeremy on his birthday...Jeremy's 10 today and his birthday present from his family is a brand new headcollar...looks like it has a super fluffy noseband too!

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

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