Thursday, 31 July 2014

July's Calendar Photo

Margaret quite rightly pointed out that I'd forgotten to blog July's calender photo!  This month's photo featured 3 of our sponsor ponies who are lucky enough to graze on this beautiful conservation grazing site by the sea.  The area is enclosed and we were quite careful to choose a site where there are no hazards such as cliffs!  It's an amazing site known for it's amazing diversity in flora and fauna - there are even otters living there!  The two mares, Misty and Star, are traumatised and have earnotches.  Breeze (a gelding) was a foal from the original herd and isn't traumatised.  He was born with a lameness which doesn't seem to bother him at all but makes him unsuitable as a riding pony.  The ponies love living on this site!  They get checked everyday by the Devon Wildlife Trust warden.  We do an MOT check once a year - with the help of our friends Vanessa and Phillip, and our farrier, Frank, we round the ponies up and give them a health check and trim their feet. 

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Lulu Update

We had an update yesterday from Heather about Lulu...and big congratulations are in order...
"Just to let you know Lulu won two showjumping classes and £20 in affiliated show jumping money. Only at 1' 9 as small riders.  And first prize in the fancy dress as a hippy chic at Woolsery Show yesterday.

She also went to Holsworthy riding club show and won loads of rosettes in clear round jumping with various riders and then in the against the clock jump offs, (slow and steady wins the race!) at 30 cm up to 90 cm, so feeling very proud of her! 

I can't take any of the credit as it is her weekend family who have done all the hard work! Grace and Daisy Barker with Mum Deb Harding and cousins Lauren and Ellie Harding."

Very well done to Lulu and all her jockeys on all their competition successes!

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Pony Photos

Here's a few photos of the ponies from today...

Beautiful Topsy 

Yummmmm....Barley's soooo good!

Dan and Arthur
Arthur's settling in well.  We gave them some wiillow
branches today...Arthur was so excited he picked up his branch
and ran off at a gallop to do a lap of the field with it.  He
wasn't frightened, just very pleased!  Didn't have the camera at that moment though!
It's quite a skill running at high speed carrying a branch in your mouth!
Dan does a good job of making sure the herd stays peaceful
and that Arthur respects the herd rules 
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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

People4ponies Welcomes Research Recommending Stallion Removal From Dartmoor

Many hundreds of unwanted foals are born each year on Dartmoor.  
It's so good to see an article in the Western Morning News showing movement on Dartmoor in an effort to stop the mass overbreeding problem.  Robyn Petrie Ritchie who is a biologist and also farms on the moor has undertaken a research project studying the ponies and looking to find a solution to the overbreeding problem.  As those who follow our blog will know - the majority of the farmers do want to remove the stallions from the moor but it's just a small selection of farmers on the Commoner's Council that refuse to take part and stop this from happening.  The research helps to dispel some of the myths that have surrounded pony keeping on the moor, such as proving that it is the mares that control where the herds go, not the stallions.  Removing stallions is not as catastrophic as many on the moor had traditionally believed. The study also suggests bringing selected mares off the moor to breed with a stallion that is kept on enclosed land on an owner's holding.

What's really important is that the study confirmed that the vast majority of the farmers want the stallions removed...but the Commoner's Council aren't listening...let's hope that this will help them start to take notice.  We are in the middle of an equine crisis and continually breeding unwanted animals is irresponsible.

The final quotes in the article shows the sorts of attitudes they are up against - in order for this to work, everyone needs to be on-board.  Whilst it works in the interests of a few individuals to force others to breed so they feel they have little option but to take part in a meat production system (that presumably makes money for the few) this might also need to be exposed to make a change.  If people have invested sums of money into this already, are they really going to want to take part in a system that massively reduces the benefit of the investment they have made?  Whilst key players are only prepared to do the bare minimum - any change cannot be fully successful.  You need to remove ALL stallions and colts and only allow vasectomised males or geldings out on the moor.  If colts are found they need to be removed and everyone needs to work together to do that.  Removing mares for just 3 weeks isn't going to make enough of a difference.

On Dartmoor, any discussions with resistant key players, often results in them saying "this won't work because...." but lets hope the voices of the majority will be heard and we will see a change.  If a scientist who is living on the moor and is part of the community can bring about that change, that will be fantastic...!

Here's the link to the article:

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Horse Agility Pairs

As you know, we've had quite a busy time Horse Agility-ing recently and today was our last chance to try the Summer of Sport competitions.  Margaret, Faye, Rocky and Frodo had a go at the Pairs course.  Peter has been helping us today so we got lots of chores done in the morning and then he did some filming for us...although our final video was actually filmed by Jenny!!

We could only manage the plastic bottles by putting them on the gravel and using some gravel to weigh them down...otherwise they blow away before you get to the obstacle!!  We're adapting to course logistics!

Arthur had a good day today and settled straight down to grazing out in the field, which was great to see.

Well done to Rowan and Jeremy who have entered their first ever Horse Agility show jumping competition today!

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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Our New Arrival - Arthur

Arthur just arrived

This morning a new pony arrived at the yard and has joined p4p.  He's come from a local family but my goodness does he have a story to tell (and that's just the bit we can work out!) - born on Dartmoor in 2006 (so he's 8 now) but he didn't really have a name, more a number...1612.  Somehow (most likely after being sold at a market) he ended up in Kent with travellers and then somehow ended up back in Devon again...and from the lot number stickers on his passport we know that since he was registered in Kent he's been to at least 4 markets.  He'd been with his current family for 3.5 years and they bought him at Bampton market - they call him Arthur.  He's a bit nervous - he's been signed over to us so we should be able to help him progress with his confidence.  He's a really nice looking pony...we just need to get him settled in and get to know him a bit better...and hopefully we'll be able to finally find him the forever home that he deserves.  Thanks to his family for bringing him to us, at least we can promise him no more markets...
Getting acquainted - getting to know Arthur a bit
Meeting Rocky and Frodo

Rocky's not that impressed to be honest!
Frodo says hello to Arthur

Meeting Bobby and Dan (aren't they looking stunning!!)

Introducing Arthur to the field - my goodness he can run -
full out gallops around the field! 
Thanks go to Margaret for giving up her Saturday to help with the ponies and getting Arthur settled in!

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Peter's OLHA Entries

Today Peter's been doing his last Horse Agility entry for this month so he now has two classes to enter with Frodo - the Starter Course and the Junior Course.  It was so unbelievably hot today and the flies didn't help.  It seems that Frodo definitely doesn't approve of hopping!  Well done Peter for sticking with it and completing two super entries.

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Horse Agility Summer Of Sport 2014

We've been working on our Horse Agility entries for July - it's the Summer Of Sport this month so the competition is based on representing the country you come from.  It's a bit tricky as obstacle 3 requires you to wear a piece of national costume or clothing that represents your country - so Peter came up with an England football shirt which was a good idea as we couldn't really think of anything for England...unless wellies or a waterproof count!

We've taken a couple of great competition videos of Peter with Frodo but we're finding it difficult to choose between the two of them - deciding which to submit for the most points!!  If you could edit the best bits of the two videos together I'm sure they'd have 100%.  Whilst we decide...We love these photos of Peter waving the flag over Frodo.

Rocky and Topsy also did super attempts at the course which we have entered (thanks to Peter for letting us borrow his T-shirt and football!) - Rocky was filmed by Peter and Topsy by Margaret.  Topsy's showing her age and looks a bit's good for her to keep on the move and she's done brilliantly again, attempting the curtain for the first time.  Videos are below...

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Tiverton Balloon Festival

We've been at Tiverton Balloon Festival with our fundraising stall for the last 3 days to raise money for the ponies.  Thank you to everyone who visited our stall and came to support us.  It was the biggest event we've ever attended and lots of hard work went into the running and preparation of the stall - so thank you again to everyone who helped.  The weather was quite challenging - very hot on Friday, rain on Saturday and very windy weather on Sunday...all manageable with a good amount of sellotape to hold everything in place!  Peter came every day and helped with the setting up and the running of the stall.  Margaret helped both with the stall and the looking after the ponies.  Catherine and Victoria helped at the yard on Saturday morning...and thank you to Cilla and Gill who donated plants to sell.  One of the trickiest parts was packing up the stall and getting through the crowds in the dark evenings - Toni and Howard very kindly came to help with this, making things much easier!  Anne came too and helped with the stall and with moving all our stock and tables at the end of each day.  Over the 3 days we took £318.90 on our stall.

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Ponies Or Appaloosas??

I didn't get to blog these photos last week as we were busy getting ready for the Balloon Festival...but last weekend the ponies came in from the fields decorated with mud spots...quite unusual!  Frodo in particular looked more like an appaloosa!

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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Silver And Baby Update

Those of you who have been following p4p for a while will be very pleased to see an update about Silver and Baby who live with our volunteer Catherine.  Catherine has her grandchildren visiting from Australia and they are really enjoying spending time with the ponies.  Both Silver and Baby were very frightened ponies...but with lots of training and patience from Catherine look how far they have come...

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Friday, 4 July 2014

Peter And Frodo's Horse Agility Results

Peter and Frodo earlier in the year!
Big congratulations go to Peter and Frodo for their fantastic Horse Agility entry...their results came in at 91 out of a possible 100 points, which is such an achievement, particularly for their first ever competition!  The liberty class that Peter entered is open to all levels and he was competing against adults, all of whom are at a much higher competition level (not starter) and some of whom who are at the equivalent of the "gold medal" level!  All the more impressive is that he came 9th in a class of 11, actually gaining more points than people who are at a much more advanced level than him!  Peter's disappointed that he didn't just wait until he competes in his first Starter Level against people at the same level!  Peter and Frodo make quite a team!  Here's their actual results card:

(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.  Where the rope is marked as ‘tight’ between obstacles, food rewards are given between obstacles or there is a break in the flow from obstacle to obstacle 1 mark will be deducted from the next obstacle’s score).

"Human name Peter Gunn GB
Equine  name Frodo

1.Walk together 5/4 
2. Curtain turn left 5/5
3.Tarpaulin 5/5
4.Figure eight 3/3  
5.Zig zag 5/5
6.Tunnel  5/4 
7.Weave  4/4
8. Gap 5/5
9.Scary corner 5/5
10.Bottle bank 5/4 

Total Score 91
Comments: What a fantastic start! Well done."

The results table can be found on the Horse Agility website on the following link:

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Thursday, 3 July 2014


Some of the haymaking team...clockwise from top left: Cuba the dog, Alex, Heather, Jessica, Angela,
Jo, Edward, Beate, Ted, Catherine (hiding behind Ted!), Jenny, Victoria, Stella, Pete, Roger, Kevin and Robbie.
Other hay moving helpers not in the photo were Hugh, Roger, Russell, and Mark!

Roger rewing up the hay

Richard in the red tractor baling and Roger rewing up

Angela driving the little tractor

Roger, Beate and Cuba

Hay stack getting higher!

Team work to get the bales from the trailer, up onto the haystack and stacked

With Robbie's expert skill we were stacked nearly to the roof!

As always, we'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to help with the haymaking today!  Lots of our usual helpers were out of action with injuries, or had already made other plans so we thought we'd be short of help...but we had a super turnout of helpers - I think the most we've ever had! Our volunteer helpers came from over quite an area to help - some from as far as Exmoor and Chard...and thank you to Robbie for even offering to bring extra machinery down if we needed it!  Everyone worked together as a team, and worked hard too - we had a bumper crop of 734 bales from one field.  The baler was working for a very long time and it was amazing how well everyone did keeping up with the stacking of trailers and the stacking in the barn.  The little orange tractor helped with the hay making for the first time.  Whilst it can only take a relatively small number of bales on its trailer compared to the large tractors, it definitely contributed and played its part.  Angela really enjoyed driving the little tractor for us!

We also need to say thank you's for all the hay making preparation too - a lot happens before the baling day...Roger cut the hay for us, mended the broken hay turner, rewed up for us, and helped with bringing the hay in; Ted has spent hours on the tractor turning hay and Jenny's been supporting him, helped us find our helpers and made sure everyone was provisioned with snacks and drinks, Margaret helped to get the area ready for the hay to be stored in...and Angela came to help all day to make sure all the pony chores were done before the hay making happened.

It's always such a great feeling to have all the hay safely stacked in the barn.  Of course, the biggest thank you goes to Ted and Jenny for helping us and for donating all the hay to p4p for the ponies.

Amazing effort...we're so glad that everyone enjoyed themselves and had fun whilst working hard...thank you so much again everyone!

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Haymaking Is Underway!

Freshly turned hay drying in the field

Our neighbour, Roger, surprised us all yesterday by arriving to cut our hay (which we are very grateful for!) now it's a mad dash to get the hay made and stored in the barn before the rain arrives on Friday!!  Ted's been busy on the tractor turning the hay in the morning and afternoon.  There's so much more grass than we expected this year.  Even though we've only cut one field there will be a lot of bales to get into the barn.  The search for volunteer bale movers is underway!

Ted seeing to the machinery after completing the afternoon turning

Tess supervising the proceedings

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