Thursday, 29 May 2014

Preparations Are Underway

Larry, Apache and Ebony
Preparations are underway for our upcoming course - it's not long to go now so Margaret's been helping to get lots of jobs done - we've moved mats, hay, straw and we've sorted out the fencing so we now have the two new gateways in operation.  Margaret's also washed all the headcollars for us!

Jane is very kindly allowing us to round-up Ebony and Apache as part of the course so Faye went over to visit them on Monday.  Larry the sheep is very happy living with the ponies (and he actually thinks he is a pony!) so he'll also be joining in the round-up!

We were asked to take in some of the ponies seized by the authorities in the recent prosecution case on the Blackdown Hills, but sadly we just can't take any others at the moment...there would be extra costs involved with foals, or colts that would need to be gelded and whilst we try to help as many as we can we can't overstretch our resources.  With so many unhandleable equines it's a very sad situation...

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

...And The Results Are In!!

The Online Horse Agility results have been published and we have great news!  Topsy has scored brilliantly...95 out of a possible 100 points...we're so very proud.  This score placed her 6th in a class of 12.  The scores are made up of 10 points each obstacle - 5 for effectively negotiating the obstacle and 5 for good horsemanship shown whilst negotiating the obstacle. Vanessa's feedback comment was "what an excellent start and brings tears to my eyes that Topsy looks so relaxed!".   Topsy only needs 3 more league points to progress to the next level up!

Rocky also had a video entered, although I'm not sure he's really impressed about horse agility yet, he scored well too with 93 out of 100!

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Monday, 19 May 2014

Topsy's Horse Agility Video

Thanks to Margaret's efforts with the we managed to film Topsy doing her first ever Horse Agility Online Competition entry (OLHA).  Topsy's a bit stiff but otherwise is doing great.  It might not be the best competition entry ever but it's a huge achievement for us and Topsy!  Topsy only did the hula hoop obstacle and the flags for the first time yesterday!  We're hoping Topsy might get awarded her first ever rosette...we think she deserves it!  

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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Sunshine At Last

Topsy obviously decided to make the most of the remaining mud this morning!

Today has been the first day of the year when it's been possible to do all the chores with no wellies!  Hooray...and it's T-Shirt weather!  The ponies are losing the last of their winter coats and their lovely shiny summer coats are at the ready to fully emerge.

We started the week with woolly hats and fleeces (and mud of course!) and we had a couple of brilliant local chaps come to put some gates in for us, thanks to Ted and Jenny.  They were able to improve the set-up of where the ponies go in and out of the yard area with two gates - one for tractors and one for ponies.  It looks very smart...Topsy now has the job of eating some lush grass for us to get it operational and all incorporated as part of the pony field.

We are pleased to announce that to replace our normal fundraiser at The Brooke show, we have been accepted to have a stall at the Tiverton Balloon Festival in July!  This is the biggest event that we've ever attended and we're looking forward to's three days for us during the afternoons and evenings.  For more information visit

Thank you very much to Vanessa for donating our free membership and entries to the Horse Agility Club - the deadline for the online starter course is getting very close now but we're still hoping to make it for the starter course entries.

On Thursday, Faye went to visit some members of Frodo's pony family - his sister Winnie, his half sister Millie, and his Mum Tess (aka Mrs Brownhead) - it was lovely to meet them all and Catriona.  Winnie's not been feeling well so we hope she feels better and back to her normal self very soon.  Millie is a half sister of Frodo because although they share the same Mum, Millie's Dad was very clearly Dan rather than Apache.  The strange thing is that Millie is MUCH bigger than both her Mum or Dad so there must be some "nearly 13hh" genes in there somewhere.  Millie has such a lovely personality - so clearly like Dan but without the fear.

On Friday it was "now or never" with the mud and rolling - it's so much easier to walk around when it's rolled - it makes a big difference...and then today we helped Ted and Jenny make a gravel pathway and tidied up one half of the tack room.

We've been inundated with midges but thankfully Bobby's been managing well with our special mixtures that we apply.  They've been biting us as well as the ponies!

Catherine's husband is now home again and feeling much better - so we wish him a speedy recovery...and we must say a belated "Happy Birthday" to Peter who was 10 on Thursday.

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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Group Excursion

We had Peter and Margaret with us today, so as well as doing all the usual chores we went on our first team excursion - which was also Topsy's first walk out with the other ponies.

Ready to go!
Quick snack of delicious greenery for the ponies
Peter and Frodo taking the lead
Special photo for Katie and Nicola...
we hope they are very proud of their pony!
Off we go...thank you Jenny for taking the photos for us!

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Topsy and Peter's Triumph

Today Topsy and Peter had their own little triumph.  Peter offered Topsy some small pieces of apple and she took them very gently from his hand.  For Topsy this was a big thing - although she's accustomed to accepting cow parsley, dandelions and a variety of hedgerow plants from the hand (and she'll hoover up rosehips from your palm etc) she would never take a piece of apple or carrot.  She does love them in a bowl of food, so it's not that she doesn't like them.  We're pretty sure that somewhere in her past someone tried to "trick" her (or what Topsy perceived to be this) by tempting her with an apple or carrot and then probably tried to grab her.  Today was another step on the way to her leaving those past memories behind and knowing that she can trust people.  She can be so calm and chilled out in situations now that people ask if she's been a ridden pony all her life and how many shows or competitions she's done!  It was nice to see Topsy looking in the kitchen window looking to see if Peter was on his way back, and woofling to him as he appeared in the yard!

In other news...We're pleased to report that Trading Standards had a very good, clear announcement at the Exmoor Pony Society AGM about ear tagging and notching - and this statement was endorsed by the chairman who made it clear that it is not acceptable and if anyone is doing this they must cease...breaches of the law will not be tolerated.

We discovered this week that The Brooke show won't be running this year, which is very sad as it's one of our favourite fundraising events and has been a great way of promoting rescue animals.  We're researching alternative events for our fundraising stall this year.

And finally...We send our thoughts and "get well soon" wishes to Catherine and her husband Edward - poor Edward's in hospital so we hope he feels better very soon...

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Frodo Has A New Trick!

We've been having a very busy week with some rather epic efforts in terms of activity.  Today Margaret came an extra day to help us get a head start on some of the jobs we want to get done before our course in a month's spring cleaning has commenced!  Tidying up the back of the barn, which will transform it from store area into classroom/teaching area.  All the rubber mats that were down in the winter to help us navigate through the mud have to be extracted, dried and cleaned off.  Margaret's done an impressive job with sorting these out.  The mats are quite heavy even when they are dry and mud-free so the easiest way of moving them is in the link box of the little tractor.  After having a break for lunch, we came out to find Frodo standing in the link box on the back of the tractor and he seemed to rather enjoy playing with the mats that were in it!

We've been able to start cleaning up the tack room as well so we've managed to achieve quite a lot today.

We've also managed to find a buyer for our Strada saddle this week.  A lady posted on the Strada forum searching for the exact size and type of saddle that we had been donated.  After email exchanges with information and photos, the lovely lady has agreed to buy it and has enabled us to raise £500 for the ponies.  The only slight difficulty was that it needed to be sent to France - the buyer has been happy to cover the courier cost too.  After some initally scary quotes of over £500(!!) for shipping, making us worry that we'd lose the sale (!!) we found a much more reasonably priced courier and the saddle will be going off to it's new home tomorrow.  We hope Charlotte and her pony have many happy hours together riding with their new saddle!  A huge thank you to Jenny for helping with the epic task of packing it up...we never seem to have a box big enough so end up having to merge boxes together.

Topsy's continuing to enjoy her walks out and has seen all manner of traffic, trailers, dogs and walkers and is doing brilliantly.  The boys are enjoying lots of time playing together.  This evening they were galloping circuits around the field before dinner!  Last week Faye came out of the barn to find Frodo fast asleep on the mats in the yard - they're really nice and warm in the sunshine.  He was so asleep he didn't even wake up when she went across the yard and his front legs were moving - he was dreaming...obviously about running!  It didn't make a good photo though...he was so asleep he looked dead in the photo!  We should have taken a video but he'd have almost certainly have woken up if we'd gone to get the right camera!

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Illegal Ear Tagging Of Exmoor Ponies

A recent report commissioned by Exmoor National Park revealed that some breeders of Exmoor ponies within the National Park are continuing to ear tag their ponies (as well as microchipping and hot branding them) - the breeders admit that they know the practise is illegal.  We have already been in contact with Devon Trading Standards to report that this breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

We worked very hard back in 2010 to make sure that illegal ear mutilations on wild ponies were stopped (with the help of BEVA and the BVA) and it is part of our charity aims to make sure that the law is adhered to and enforced.

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May's Calendar Photo

After the exciting, entertaining photo of April, we now have a much calmer and "cute" photo for May.  This is a photo of one of the many foals born to the original herd in the "herd field"...we believe this little colt foal is Rosco who is being temporarly looked after (or perhaps that should be foalsitted??) by an "aunt".  This quite often happens in herds of ponies so that mum can go and have a rest for a while or attend the watering hole etc.   

Our ponies were very lucky to be rescued as a whole group together and Rosco is now one of our loan ponies.  The youngsters had the best start in life with sympathetic handing and no mutilations, making them much more well rounded individuals ready to take on their futures as domesticated family ponies.

Foals are very cute but we most certainly have a no breeding policy here at p4p and steps were taken very swiftly once the original herd was rescued to stop the breeding.  Overbreeding is one of the biggest issues facing equines in this country at the moment and it's a situation that needs to be taken much more seriously.  For years we've seen large charities prepared to sit back and do nothing to attempt to stop the impending crisis.  The answer isn't to start eating's to stop the irresponsible breeding in the first place...which means gelding colts and stallions and removing stallions from the moorland areas.

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