Friday, 28 November 2014

Our Latest Newsletter Is Published!

Our latest newsletter has just been published and we're currently in the process of posting them out, so hopefully you should get your copy with all the pony news soon!

In the meantime, we'd like to say another big THANK YOU to the Tiverton Free Spirits - this week we raised £51.61 at their meeting from the sales of necklaces and keyrings!

You might spot us in the local papers this week with our official announcement of Neil Parish MP becoming our patron.

We're hoping that the weatherman's promise for sunshine for tomorrow is true as we'd really like some photos of Oscar in the sunshine!

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Oscar Has Arrived!

Meeting Oscar
Very excitingly we have found a new dog for Ted and Jenny!  We went to The Dog's Trust in Ilfracombe today to visit Oscar who we had seen on their website.  He's a 12 year old Bearded Collie who was looking for a home and we felt he would be perfect for Ted and Jenny.  Everyone at the Dog's Trust were so very friendly and helpful today and they even managed to organise everything so that we could take him home today!  Our volunteer Catherine is one of their home checkers and she came with us to meet Oscar too.  He has separation anxiety issues and was getting very upset being left in kennels every night - he'd even broken a tooth trying to get out, bless him.  As soon as he arrived at Ted and Jenny's house he was so happy and relaxed - after having a look around he laid down flat out and slept before having his dinner.  I think he's even smiling in the photo below :0)   

"Ooh treats!"

Just after grooming with his 2 woolly's cold out tonight!
Oscar this evening...I think there's definitely a smile there!
On our way to the Dog's Trust we stopped over at Catherine's.  Ted and Jenny were able to see Silver the pony who used to live at their yard...up until he was rehomed to Catherine, and they met his companions Baby and Willow for the first time.

 And on top of all those lovely stories...I've just got home to find this gorgeous photo of Jenny, Bartie, Barnaby and Bisto who have been out adventuring this weekend...well done everyone :0)

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Without Cruelty Festival

We've had a super day in Exeter today at the Christmas Without Cruelty Festival.  We had a stall to raise money for the ponies and had such a great time meeting such lovely people - lots of animal minded people and it's nice to catch up with friends and supporters too!  The festival has such a friendly atmosphere and has a great ethical dimension as all the products on sale must be produced without cruelty to humans or animals.  As you can see we had quite an array of beautiful gifts on offer and we are very grateful to everyone for their support...we raised an amazing £365.10 for the ponies which we think is our most ever at an event...THANK YOU!!

We must say a big thank you to Catherine and Victoria who were kind enough to look after the ponies for us this morning...and got things organised for us this afternoon - we really appreciate it!

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Barnaby and Busy

I just had to share this as it really made me smile...

...I had an email from Jenny to say "Just a quicky, i thought you would both like to see this photo of   Barnaby and Bisto playing in the school yesterday afternoon, he's bareback and was trotting and even cantered around a little.   After this i did some free schooling / playing with him and he even popped a few small jumps".  

Doesn't Barnaby look fantastic up there???!!  Well done Barnaby and Busy!

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

More Research Results Surrounding Dartmoor Hill Ponies...Meat And Passporting

As Dartmoor Ponies have been on television yet again this week...I thought it would be useful to share the results of our recent research with you...

Margaret's been doing some research, and we are pleased to say that the following shops and suppliers are committed to not stocking pony, horse or equine products...I think it's fair to say that most expressed their shock and disgust that it had even been suggested:
  • Tesco "I wish to confirm that Tesco does not sell any horse/pony meat and there won't be any UK retailers that do.  It is not illegal as such in this country but it's not something we sell or have any plans to".
  • Waitrose "I can confirm that Waitrose has no intention of using or stocking horse or pony meat now or in the future".
  • Sainsbury's "I can confirm that we do not and will not sell horse or pony meat in our stores at any point".
  • Morrisons
  • Asda
  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Budgens and Londis
  • M&S
  • The Co-op
  • Harrods
  • Booths
  • Fortnum & Mason  "We have absolutely no intention to offer Dartmoor pony meat for sale, now or in any future instance".
  • Wholefoods Stores
  • Palmer Harvey
It is also interesting to note that Defra have also confirmed our understanding of the current passport laws, which means that it is illegal for adult moorland ponies to be passed into the human food chain unless they have been passported as foals.  Most ponies on Dartmoor are unpassported (because their owners choose to benefit from the derogation) so would not currently qualify for any proposed scheme.  The clarification from Defra states: 

"Since 28 February 2005, all owners of horses, ponies and other equines in the UK have been required to have a passport for each animal in order to comply with European legislation. This also applies to horses owned before that date.  Passports are important food chain documents, which show whether a horse is eligible for slaughter for human consumption.

The administration of certain veterinary medicines (including bute) renders horses unfit for human consumption, therefore this information must be recorded in the passport by the prescribing veterinary surgeon.

It is an offence to fail to obtain a passport for your horse either by the 31st of December in the year of its birth, or six months from the date of its birth, whichever is later. If a passport is issued for a horse outside of these timescales, then it must be signed out of the human food chain and cannot be slaughtered for food.

There are derogations (specific exemptions) that apply to defined populations of Dartmoor, Exmoor and New Forest Ponies; specifically those registered in the relevant studbooks or lists and living wild or semi-wild within the designated moors or forest.

These animals do not have to be identified unless moved off their home areas; treated with any veterinary medicinal product; or brought into domestication, including within the designated area.

Adult ponies can only go to slaughter for human consumption if they have been fully identified through a horse passport within the normal deadlines as outlined above.  Derogated ponies under 12 months of age may be moved direct to slaughter without a passport, but they must be identified with a rump sticker (that bears a unique number and date of application), and be slaughtered within seven days of the date on the rump sticker"

It would be nice to see some media coverage supporting the farmers and breeders who are trying to change Dartmoor for the better...the Commoners' Council are still yet to act despite the fact that 92% of the pony keepers want change...and somehow the 8% are the ones getting all the media coverage!

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"Well Done"s And "Thank You"s

Well done to Peter for the result of his latest Horse Agility competition with Frodo...they achieved 5th place and his feedback comment was "A really good round, well done Peter!".  They've now been promoted to the next level and slightly more challenging courses!  There's an extra reason why we are really pleased...because Peter's been working on getting a "nice" Frodo and not an "I might bite you" Frodo!  Peter found it difficult to say "No" or set boundaries, but although it was difficult for him, he worked at it and now their relationship is better than ever :0) a big well done to both of them!

Bisto has arrived at his new home and well done to Barty the arab who is getting brave enough to say hello to Bisto!!  Barnaby is absolutely delighted that his pony has arrived and can't wait to play with him.

Now the "Thank you"s - Thank you to Margaret who's done extra shifts at the yard over the last week so that Faye could go out and do the homechecks etc for Bisto...Margaret also bought us a new yard broom the other week so we must mention that too...

...And thank you very much to Catherine who rescued us this week after Faye's trusty poo scooper died...rather a serious problem when you work with ponies all day!!  You do get used to your preferred equipment and it had done many hours of service but the handle sheared off!!  Catherine had already purchased a replacement and so came over to deliver our Christmas present early...even presented with a ribbon bow!  The funny thing is that it's the brightest pink you can imagine - Catherine said it was the last one in the shop, so pink was the only option.  I'm sure there's a message in that somewhere..."Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life"???

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bisto Has Found His New Loan Home!

We are delighted to announce that Bisto has found his new home with a natural horsemanship family on the Blackdown Hills.  They passed their homecheck with flying colours earlier in the week and today was the day that they met Bisto in person (or in pony, so to speak!)

Barnaby tries out leading Bisto
Jenny and Bisto
Rachael showed us how she has trained Bisto to rest his hoof on a bucket for it to be picked out

Getting ready to ride!

Dad's there to help too!
All set to go!

Bisto out on the lanes - Rachael has the most fabulous scooter
that enables her to go just about anywhere!

It turns out that Barnaby loves to trot and so does Bisto, so they are going to be a very fit family!!  It'll also help them to keep up with Jenny's super arab!  Well done everyone and we wish them many happy hours together both in and out of the saddle.  We look forward to hearing more about their adventures together soon!

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

It's Getting More Wintry...

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Christmas is Coming...Please Remember Easyfundraising!!

Thanks to all our supporters we raised £25.40 between July and September using Easyfundraising...with Christmas approaching fast please remember us when doing your Christmas shopping online!

The ponies can gain donations from hundreds of popular retailers when you shop costs you just have to go through the Easyfundraising website to go to your usual shopping website...and there's no catch - and you can ask not to be sent any extra emails.  To reach the website go to the following link:

So far your efforts have raised a total of £259.86 for people4ponies ... so a big THANK YOU to all of you for your internet shopping!

...And another big thank you to the Tiverton Free Spirits who tonight raised £20.33 for us through sales of our pony Christmas cards and donations!

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Poo Picking Working Party

Thanks to Catherine, Victoria and Margaret we had a poo picking working party in the fields today...and achieved our mission!  We were behind on the field duties after the market patrolling and so it was great to have a team effort...16 wheelbarrows full cleared the lot and we're now back on track which is a great feeling!

Thank you very much everyone for your efforts!  Thank you to Victoria too for all the lovely items she donated for our tombola which will be available at the Christmas stalls!

There are now only 13 calendars remaining before we are sold out so do get in touch if you want to reserve your copy!
Lovely rainbow today...
...And another with Topsy earlier in the week!!

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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

November Calendar Photo

When I'm putting the p4p calendar together I try to put at least one group photo of all the ponies residing at the yard.  It's only then that I realise how difficult it is to get a photo with them all in it at the same time!  There's 7 of them in this photo and Rocky cleverly managed to work out a way for all of them to fit in.  There's Rocky closest to the camera and then from left to right...Frodo, Bobby, Dan, Tufty, Munchkin and Topsy.  We lost Tufty to a lipoma last year, but she had lived to a grand old age.  Munchkin was rehomed last year.  I'm really pleased we had a blue sky photo for November - it's uplifting for those dull and damp days!

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Our First Horse Agility 1st!

We only just managed to film our entries in time for the October Horse Agility competition course.  Going to all the wild pony markets and being ill meant it was a last minute dash in the good weather to get the course built and filmed.  Peter came over and helped to build the course on Thursday and he filmed for us on Friday.  I'm pleased that we did because we have our first 1st place...Rocky scored 95/100 giving him joint 1st, and Arthur came 5th with 93/100.  We were supposed to trot over the tarpaulin but neither are quite ready for that and we hadn't had time to practise.  Well done ponies for a super effort!

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Dartmoor Society Research Talk by Robyn Petrie-Ritchie: 'Pony Herds and Pony Management on Dartmoor - New Observations'

Yesterday evening we attended The Dartmoor Society research lecture in Bovey Tracey.  Robyn Petrie-Ritchie, a scientist and farmer on Dartmoor, presented the results of her recent Masters Degree research into pony management on the moor.  

The research was born out of the current situation on Dartmoor - where every year there is a massive number of unwanted ponies with at least 600 foals being born and destroyed every year.  The research focussed on two separate areas - on the opinions and ideas of the farmers/breeders that owned ponies on Dartmoor; and the behavioural observations of ponies in particular management situations on the moor.

51 pony owners on the moor were interviewed for the research.  The results showed that 92% want a change in the way the ponies are managed on the moor.  69% want the stallions to be removed from Dartmoor and a further 10% were unsure of what to do.  A few breeders suggested that there should be a clear period for ponies on the moor just as there is for cows and sheep - where all ponies would have to be removed between certain dates.  This would allow for management such as worming to take place and to make sure that all animals had been removed.

In 2011, the Dartmoor Commoners' Council conducted their own survey into pony management on the commons.  The result of this showed 76% were in favour of stallion removal and 23% were not in favour.  No actions were taken from this research in terms of changing management.

The new research revealed that there is no known figure of exactly how many ponies are on Dartmoor.  There are 150 registered stallions and there is an estimated number of 1200 ponies altogether.  Some owners do not seem to know how many ponies they own/have out on the commons and the list of pony owners held by the Commoners' Council appears to be out of date.

The behavioural research looked at 3 groups of ponies - the first was a herd of mares with a vasectomised stallion, the second was a herd of mares with no stallion, and the third was a group of mares on the contraceptive drug Improvac who were running with a proven stallion.  The first group had far fewer foals, some foals were born because the owner had intentionally covered some mares inground (off the moor) with their own stallion.  The vasectomised stallion did maintain his body condition and the herd displayed normal behaviours.

The mares living without a stallion maintained their lears, proving that a stallion is not needed to keep the mares in certain areas.  There were unwanted foals born to the mares because they were covered by other people's stallions.

The contraception scheme mares didn't stay as tightly grouped together as the other herd groups.  They were on a large enclosed area rather than the open moor so it is difficult to determine whether it is an effect from the drug or not.

The drug Improvac is being trialled on the wild ponies as a contraceptive and is not licensed for use in equines.  The drug company that produces it states that it is not likely to be licensed for equines in the near future. The ponies on the drug need to be injected, then again 4 weeks later, again in another 6 months and then booster jabs would be required.  If the 6 month jab is missed the mare comes heavily into season and then would become pregnant if covered by a stallion. The long term effects of the drug are still unknown.  Another research study conducted into horses on the drug Improvac tested 9 horses - one which stayed in oestrus meaning that the mare was constantly in season, posing potential welfare issues.

Analysing the possible management methods and the behavioural results, each come with benefits and disadvantages, but the research results supported the idea that there should be a "No breeding on the open commons" policy.

There were questions after the talk...the cost implications of vasectomisation vs contraception were asked about.  The operation for the vasectomy costs approximately £250 and this had previously been met by the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust who paid the majority of the sum with the owners only having to pay £50 VAT.  The DPHT have now pledged that they would fund (I believe in full?) the cost of vasectomising colts/stallions to help things move forward.  Charlotte Faulkner, who was at the meeting, was asked to give a cost for the contraceptive but no response was given.

It was asked why the Commoner's Council currently allow each pony keeper to keep a maximum of 5 stallions each out on the moors.  Mary Alford, the Vice Chairman of the Commoners' Council, responded to this question and made it clear that it would be a tragedy if the stallions were removed from Dartmoor.  She stated that some pony keepers have up to 5 different lears and this is why pony keepers are allowed a maximum of 5 stallions each.

Another statement was made that a lot of pony keepers on Dartmoor put no time to their ponies at all and if you keep livestock of any kind you need to expect to put time into your animals.

It was a very informative evening and a well attended was good to see that the pony keepers desperately want change. We will now have to see whether the Commoner's Council committee listen to the research results and the requests of the pony keepers to take action...

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