Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review of the Year 2014

Well...we've finally reached the end of 2014...and what a year...lots of hard work, that's for sure...it's hard to believe everything that has happened in 12 months...

January brought extreme weather with huge gales with lots of rain...pretty much non-stop, which Frodo celebrated by turning himself into a mud monster! It was the first month of our first ever p4p calendar...and Lord de Mauley (the head of Defra) wrote to us with more details about the code of conduct for hot branding...confirming that warmblood societies had been informed it is now illegal to hot brand.  
February brought us some of the most horrendous storms we have experienced, we were constantly battered by hugely powerful storms with torrential rain, hail, sleet and snow on occasion, and 70mph winds!!  11 days in a row with severe weather warnings!  In February we published our exposé report uncovering the illegal live export of Dartmoor Hill Ponies...and Tavistock market announced that they were no longer going to have wild pony sales.
March and the beginning of Spring meant we could finally get down to rolling the fields and working with the ponies again, particularly with Topsy - who had a visit from her former carers Nicola and Katie who were able to stroke her for the first time.  Our MP, Neil Parish, agreed to take our live export report forward to Lord de Mauley and Defra.

In April, Topsy's training continued and she started to interact with other volunteers and go for walks out with the other ponies.  Peter and Frodo started some Horse Agility training.

In May, Topsy conquered her fear of taking food from people - finally trusting that people she knows won't try to trick her.  Topsy and Rocky entered their first Horse Agility competitions, with Topsy winning 6th place in a class of 12.  We discovered that some breeders of Exmoor ponies were continuing to ear notch/tag their ponies which we reported to Trading Standards...who gave a very clear warning at the Exmoor Pony Society AGM that failure to adhere to the law will result in prosecution.

June was a hive of activity - including a cat rescue; the round-up of our Devon Wildlife Trust conservation ponies Misty, Star and Breeze; hosting Vanessa Bee's "Handling the wild and Traumatised Horse" course and rounding up Ebony and Apache as part of this;...and then all the preparations and excitement of St John's Fayre.

The beginning of July was haymaking with a bumper crop of 734 bales and an amazing team of helpers made swift work of getting it all stacked in the barn.  Faye, Peter, Margaret, Frodo, Topsy and Rocky all competed in the Horse Agility Summer of Sport.   We had a stall at the Tiverton Balloon Festival...our first 3 day fundraising event.  And more importantly, Arthur, our new pony arrived...
In August we held more fundraising stalls, took part in more Horse Agility competitions, with Arthur learning how to complete the different obstacles.  Defra sent a rather disappointing response to our live export exposé with absolutely no interest in the illegal activity we uncovered or the scale of it. More positively, we discovered Serrapeptase for Topsy, which made a huge difference to her arthritis.
In September we gained our first patrons, Vanessa Bee and Neil Parish.  We had a beautiful end to the summer at the yard...unfortunately in the wider world news headlines were filled with coverage of a particular organisation promoting eating Dartmoor ponies to "save" them...rather missing the point of stopping the overbreeding in the first place!
October was the market season and we attended all 3 wild pony sales at Chagford, Brendon and Hallworthy to monitor welfare.  With the Dartmoor pony story rumbling on continuously in the media, we were able to get another side of the story represented in The Daily Telegraph.  Very sadly, at the yard, Ted and Jenny lost Tessa, their beautiful Collie who had lived to the grand age of 16.
In November, we were able to blog about the talk we attended in Bovey Tracey - about the important research results of equine research scientist Robyn Petrie Ritchie who has been working to find a suitable viable management plan for Dartmoor to stop the overbreeding of ponies.  Margaret's research proved that supermarkets and top London stores are not willing to stock pony meat. We won our first Horse Agility 1st!  Bisto found his new home with Jenny and Barnaby.   We had an amazing time at the Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter raising £365.10 for the ponies...and the new dog Oscar arrived.
December saw our last fundraising stall and lots of lovely contact from our supporters, loan ponies and fosterers...and we all finally ran out of energy with colds and being under the weather...probably not surprising really, what a year! We successfully competed at Horse Agility throughout the year...competing at just about every month since we started...though I'm afraid we missed December...but we've had lots of fun and are very proud of our ponies' progress!

We really have done a lot of work - and the review doesn't even list the 365 days a year mucking out, hay soaking, haynet filling, and perhaps the other less glamorous jobs that come with animal keeping...and of course all the behind the scenes admin work!...Thank you again to everyone for their support and particularly to Ted and Jenny and all our wonderful volunteers who enable all this to happen...we all work without any sort of salary...all for the love of the ponies and with the aim of making a difference!

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Frosty Weather

We've all been enjoying having a few quieter days, and the ponies their Christmas treats of apples and rosehips.  Boxing Day the weather was horrible all day with heavy rain...so much so that the ponies couldn't face going out so we took pity on them with more hay in the yard to keep them happy...well it is Christmas!

Today it was a beautiful winter's day - dry, cold, and nice and frosty, which made for good photos!  Although it is very icy, we'd all enjoy a few more days like this!
Frodo, Rocky, Bobby, Arthur and Dan...spot the "odd one out"!!!
Dan on his way out into the field 
Topsy enjoyed going out with no mud as it was all iced up!

Frodo and Bobby


Dan hoping for early lunchtime snacks (about 2 hours too early!  They really do get plenty to eat!)

Frodo and Peter


Beautiful ice crystals on a leaf

Frosty weather is fun for dogs too!
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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the boys...and Topsy too...she's found a nice lush patch
of un-munched grass that she's keeping all to herself!
Merry Christmas to everyone from all the volunteers and the ponies! 

We hope you all enjoy the next few days.  The ponies will get extra treats for their Christmas dinner tomorrow to celebrate...and we're all looking forward to a quieter few days!

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Liz and PJ

One of the really nice things about getting closer to Christmas is receiving updates from people and ponies about how they are doing and what they've been up to...
PJ and friends

....Liz has kindly sent us some photos of PJ and his impressive winnings - she says that PJ has won the cup at Woolsery show for the last 2 years running!  They have lots of rosettes from their shows at Woolsery...and Okehampton - where you can see he won Best Performance Pony in a previous year. Liz says they usually win 1st or 2nd on their adventures out. What a team!  Congratulations to PJ and Liz!

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Extra Snacks

The weather's been so miserable the last couple of days we've had to resort to providing some extra snacks of hay...we're trying to feed enough but not too much to encourage any weight gain!!

"Did I hear you say there are extra snacks?"
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Out Of Action!

Sorry for the delay in blogging everyone!  Not only has there been a lot going on, Faye's been out of action with an ear infection...and now poor Margaret's out of action with a cold - we hope you feel better soon Margaret!  This meant that unfortunately we couldn't make it to our last fundraiser of the year at Eggesford...but thankfully we still have lots of "thank you"s to mention!

Firstly, a big thank you to Hazel-Ann who has put a lot of time and effort into restoring (or should that be rehabbing?) and decorating Jenny's rocking horse that was donated to raise funds for the ponies.  It must have taken a lot of work - including restoring the mane and tail...which is now made of real horse hair (which Jane's horses very kindly donated when having a trim!)!

Thank you to Tattwa, Penny, Liz, Pamela, David and Kaye, Graham, and "The Dartmoor Pixie" for their donations for the ponies - it's so kind of you and we really appreciate your help...a big thank you from all of us...

...And Well Done to everyone who's been using Easyfundraising when ordering their Christmas purchases online! Since the newsletter was issued we've raised an extra £14 and I know there's still some more to arrive...thank you!

Faye would like to thank Margaret, Catherine, and Victoria for stepping in to look after the ponies whilst she recovered from being ill!  Having been away for just a couple of days it's amazing how much the landscape has changed - it now looks properly wintry - the vegetation looks bare, the mud is starting to take hold and the ponies are getting hungry, coming back from the field in the middle of the day...time to start laying on some extra hay rations......ponies are looking great though!

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

More Fundraising Efforts

It's been very busy the last few days, not only with looking after the ponies and getting the chores done in the shorter daylight hours, but with fundraising too.  Saturday was cold, dry and sunny which makes for lovely photos!
Topsy fluffed up in the chilly weather - we did have hail mixed with a bit of snow!

Dan and Bobby on the move...

Group photo...well...4 of the 6 at least!
Margaret and Faye were at Eggesford on Sunday at a gift fair and raised just over £112 for the ponies.

Tonight we've had our fundraising stall at the Tiverton Free Spirits meeting and raised £102.35...so thank you very much everyone again for your support for the ponies!

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