Monday, 29 September 2014

BBC Inside Out Feature On Eating Dartmoor Ponies

Foal on Dartmoor - photo copyright Faye Stacey
Today is really quite an extraordinary I witnessed on television the moment the head of a UK registered charity for companion animals ate one of their own animals.  (For anyone who didn't see the programme and can't quite believe it...yes that really is typed correctly)...If you live in the UK, you can view the full story on BBC Inside Out on the following link:

I just can't imagine we'd ever see the head of one of our best loved, registered, donkey, dog or cat charities eat a rescue they didn't have room for...and then persuade other people to do the same thing, rather than concentrating on stopping the root of the problem - the over breeding.  And on Dartmoor it should be easier because it's a restricted, enclosed area.

 I find it absolutely extraordinary the group of people featured think it is easier to convince us to eat ponies than it is for them to sit down and work together to remove the stallions from the moor and stop the breeding.   There has still not been any proper informed discussion or action about the main issue in hand to take control of the situation.

If you think about other species that actually are considered endangered - pandas, leopards, elephants, for instance, the animals are all looked after by organisations - registered charities and groups that are devoted to protecting that species for the value of the animal and it's place in the environment and not for any financial gain. When it comes down to it, perhaps that's what Dartmoor needs...when financial gain is involved the ethics go by the wayside.

 If meat is the way that these pony keepers decide to go, the pony that they supposedly treasure will be lost anyway - bigger, fatter and bred for maximum profit. This has nothing to do with keeping the interests of the ponies at the fore it's about lining certain farmers pockets.

...Can you believe a couple of weeks ago the Commoners' Council wrote to the pony keepers to tell them that the Commoners are allowed 5 stallions each out on the moors this year?  How must the 70% feel who were counted in the study as wanting all the stallions removed?

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

"Eat Dartmoor Ponies To Save them" Claims Dartmoor Charity

There's been a lot of publicity regarding this shocking headline today and our regular supporters will know that we absolutely disagree with this suggestion...and what's more, we should make very clear that it's not what Dartmoor wants either! We rang in to take part in the BBC Radio 2 programme today.  We didn't actually get to speak on the programme...but Dru Butterfield from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust did a good job of putting forward the counter argument.

What still hasn't been explained to the public is that recent published research proved that over 70% of farmers on Dartmoor want the stallions removed to stop breeding.  We recently blogged about this research, see our blog post:
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The claim made in this headline undermines the work of the other equine charities, individuals and breeders who have been working hard to create a sustainable model on the moor - vasectamising, gelding, removing stallions etc.  This headline is created by the few people who have refused to take part in this.  Horses are legally classified as companion animals and are in the same category as dogs and cats.  Overbreeding is a big problem in these areas too but the best solution is to STOP THE BREEDING.

So many of the breeders have removed or vasectomised stallions and this is one of the best ways to stop breeding (by separating mares and stallions) but  there is a small core of people who refuse to remove their stallions...which then go and cover everyone else's mares resulting in hundreds and hundreds of unwanted foals.  These people effectively sabotage the efforts of the responsible breeders and have devalued the ponies to the stage where they are worthless.  They have quite clearly shown that they are more committed to setting up a permanent slaughterhouse (from which they hope to financially profit) than they are to stopping breeding on Dartmoor...but you will never hear a reporter question any of these issues.  Why can we not hear reporters asking more probing questions...Why do you keep your stallions out on the moor, chose a contraception research scheme that is impractical and likely to fail (you know that most breeders are unwilling to pay for the drugs because the ponies aren't worth anything, and it's impractical bringing in the animals at multiple times during the year) and sabotage the responsible breeders causing them to have unwanted foals...surely to legitimise your plans for a slaughterhouse and permanent meat outlet, which you try to force everyone to take part in????  If you really were committed to stopping breeding and ensuring the future of the ponies, wouldn't you take your stallions off the moors too???  Jeremy Vine completely failed to look into this properly.  Where's Jeremy Paxman when you need him!

It was good to see David Cameron being quoted as saying "I'm not keen on eating horse. I know it's something that happens in other countries, but I think we should stick to our non-horse eating habits."

As we've said before, having been around these issues for a while now I think the only real answer is for all the ponies on Dartmoor to be owned by a central organisation (such as the national park) who then take responsibility for the welfare and management of the herds.  People love coming to Dartmoor to see the ponies but I think they'd love coming even more if they knew the ponies were being ethically managed - living in the park as conservation grazers keeping Dartmoor as it should be and not constantly part of one scandal or another.  There are separate commons where the stallions could be kept.  There could be a managed policy of responsible breeding only - almost with a "breed to order" type system - for the moor and some to private homes.  Then of course, they would argue how would it be funded...but I do think people would donate to a system that ensured the ponies a life on Dartmoor, where they should be - with ensured welfare and ethical management.

The ponies are supposed to be the symbol of the national park and if they are considered special enough to be the symbol of the park then they should have a more central and more ethically managed role.

What's really important is that the recent 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 now be driven through by the responsible breeders on the moor and we'll see an end to these sorts of headlines.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Neil Parish MP Becomes Patron Of People4ponies


We are delighted to announce that Neil Parish MP has accepted our invitation to become a patron of people4ponies.  We really appreciate all the help and support that Neil has given us with our campaigning work and we wanted to recognise his efforts in improving the welfare of wild ponies and equines.
Neil visited us back in 2011 when Tufty and Topsy had just arrived

This means that we now have our first 2 patrons as Vanessa Bee also kindly accepted our invitation earlier in the month!

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Topsy Serrapeptase Update

I thought this little video might help to show how much better Topsy is moving after taking the Serrapeptase supplement for her arthritis for a few weeks now. It's really made an amazing difference to her.  If you'd like to see her previous videos you can find them on this link 

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ponies Or Racehorses?!

Margaret managed to catch the ponies' mid-day charge out to their greener pasture on the video's quite spectacular to watch!

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Well Done Ponies!

We've received all of our Horse Agility results now...and well done to Rocky, Arthur and Frodo!

Arthur won 2nd place after scoring 98 out of 100 in his starter course and has already been promoted to the next level!

Frodo got 3rd place, scoring just behind Arthur!

Rocky's result from his course a couple of weeks ago gained him 2nd place in the First Level competition with 93 out of 100.  We let him down a bit on the video-ing and the course design on the Bronze Liberty level - his score should have been 97, but us humans lost him 9 points so it came out at 88 (sorry Rocky!!!!).

Very well done to all 3 ponies!

And...we must also take the opportunity to say thank you very much to all the Ebayers who bought items online last week - altogether the sale of rugs, clippers and jodphurs made a total of £181.20!

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Arthur's 7 Week Update

It was 7 weeks ago today that Arthur arrived with us and he's progressing so fast!  He was quite nervous when he arrived but Faye described him as being nervous on the outside but not on the inside...which might seem strange...but he's a confident chap really, he's just not had his confidence developed and sometimes he's probably just become more and more confused about things.  He wasn't keen on willingly letting you approach him on his right side in particular and he had been described as being difficult to catch.  He doesn't have any notches or brands.

Faye's been catching and headcollaring him out in the field at different times of day.  He's really taken to the Horse Agility obstacles and he's definitely a pony that likes to do things.  He will stand at the fence looking at the course because he wants to have a go.  He's entered into this month's Horse Agility Starter competition and although the deadline has already passed for the liberty we had a go at some of the obstacles, which really shows you how he's come on.  Look out for the sneaky glove pickpocketing on the hula hoop obstacle!!

Liberty Video

Starter Competition Entry

Thank you very much to Jenny for doing the videoing for us!

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Busy September Days!

It's such lovely weather at the moment.  We've been busy at the yard trying to get as many jobs done as possible whilst we're clinging on to the end of summer.  Arthur and Frodo have been doing their Horse Agility competition courses.  Arthur's coming on so well and has improved so much in such a short amount of time.

 Roger's helped us out by moving the muck heap and spreading it in the "non-pony fields" - it was quite a mountain so it's really made a difference.

The ponies are delighted because we've opened up a whole new area of field for them.  Topsy's been eating off the lushest bits for us first and now the boys are enjoying having a bigger area to move about in...and more grass!  They're being time restricted to make sure they get used to all the new grass gradually and then go back to their summer pasture.

We're selling some items that have been donated to us on Ebay at the moment - 5 rugs, a pair of clippers and a pair of jodphurs...there's a few days left yet but we've already raised over £100 with the bidding so thank you everyone!

...And we're currently in the production process of the 2015 P4P calendar!  More details on this once we have the finished design but they will be available at the same price as last year - £6.99, with all profits going to the ponies.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Our First Patron!

Vanessa Bee, Club Founder
Vanessa and her dog Kes
We have some exciting news because people4ponies now has its first patron - Vanessa Bee has kindly accepted our invitation and we are delighted! Vanessa has been such a support to p4p and has known us for many years.  She, and of course her partner Phillip, have helped with so many things... round-ups, pony transporting, morale(!) at times, and Vanessa donates all the course fees from the wild pony handling courses that she has run at p4p.  Vanessa founded Positive Horsemanship and The Horse Agility Club  - a new non-ridden sport which is taking off all over the world!  You can visit her website here:

There's lots going on at the moment so apologies for the delay in blogging...more news from the yard soon!

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

September's Calendar Photo

September's photo was taken in 2011 when Faye was involved with rehoming a herd of wild ponies from Dartmoor.  Quite a few of the foals and some of the adult ponies needed to be handled before they could go to their new homes at charities all the across the country.  The photo shows the moment of first interaction and contact with a wild foal - which is quite a contrast to the traditional moorland method of manhandling, physical restraint, grabbing around the neck and sometimes pulling by the tail!  It's a great photo because it absolutely captures the essence of what we do.  Lush used this photo on their Charity Pots of hand cream after they very kindly gave us a grant in 2012.

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