Saturday, 31 January 2015

Horse Agility January

Arthur and Rocky both have entries on their level for the January Horse Agility competition - it's a bit squelchy and muddy out in the field so conditions aren't perfect!  We're really pleased at how well both of them did - particularly at trotting over the tarpaulin and through the curtain.  Arthur managed to show off his ball kicking skills!  Poor Rocky had the herd stampede behind him whilst going through the "S" bend, so no wonder he shot forward!  He did it brilliantly on the second attempt through it.  Arthur didn't seem to want to do the waiting obstacles - it's funny how he arrived as uncatchable and now he doesn't want you to leave him...he wants to come too!  Thank you very much to Jenny for doing the videoing for us!

We have lots of thank you's from the ponies this Ross for his donation to the ponies, to Jenny for donating a Himalayan salt lick, to Margaret for buying a new wheelbarrow and a huge broom (you can sweep twice as big an area in half the time!) and to Catherine for buying us a handy little broom...again just in time as our usual broom broke just as Catherine arrived with the new about that for timing!  Thank you very much everyone!
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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Arthur's Challenge

For the next Horse Agility competition we had a query about one of the instructions "Handler leads horse whilst kicking a ball" - is that meant to be the horse or the handler that kicks the ball?!

We sent a message to Vanessa who responded saying that when she wrote it, she had in mind that the human would kick the ball, but if we trained the horse to do it, she would be impressed and award full there's a challenge, so here's Arthur in action:

It is a bit of a drawback being on a hill as the ball keeps rolling off!  He's such a cool pony to work with - he seems to be quite skilled at kicking with his front right and left leg!  Thanks to Charlie for doing the filming!

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Spirit Update

Very sadly, despite all of their hard work, care, and dedication at The Horse's Voice, little Spirit died yesterday morning.  Our thoughts go to Pat and her team...

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sending Lots Of Love And Get Well Wishes...

...To Spirit, Pat and everyone at The Horse's Voice charity in Leicestershire!  They are doing an incredible job to help a little foal who came to them in the most appalling condition.  It was touch and go for little Spirit and he looked so poorly on arrival - thank goodness Pat got to him in time.  You can follow his story and updates on their Facebook page:
Spirit on Thursday

By Friday...looking so much better already...
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Associate Parliamentary Group For Animal Welfare

On Tuesday we attended Parliament to take part in the APGAW meeting.  The topic was "The Enforcement Of Animal Welfare Legislation" - looking at how it works and discussing whether it is effective.

There were 3 speakers who presented on behalf of the police, the RSPCA and a local authority.

Inspector Patrick O'Hara from the Metropolitan police was certainly an inspiration - he runs a Dog Unit within the area of the M25 and seizes animals under the Animal Welfare and Dangerous Dogs Acts.  Last year they seized 130 dogs and rehomed an amazing 118 of them.  They have a team of fosterers, and the emotional welfare of the dogs is given consideration.  Inspector O'Hara stated that one of the problems is the time it takes to bring a prosecution case to court.  The system doesn't take into account the emotional difficulty for the dogs who shouldn't be expected to be in a kennel environment for up to 9 months - particularly when the dogs are often seized from situations where they may already have some emotional trauma.

The speaker on behalf of the local authorities explained that the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in the UK is currently somewhat of a postcode lottery.  Local authorities in fact have no statutory obligation to enforce the Act.  They do however have a statutory obligation to pick up stray dogs.  Other problems also include a lack of qualified staff, a lack of resources, the costs of investigating prosecutions and that young vets are generally not willing to write reports for prosecution.

The inspector from the RSPCA showed photos of emaciated animals where they had brought prosecutions against owners.  They did admit that the system is dysfunctional.

We wanted to take forward our experiences to the committee and stated that it is unacceptable that it is a postcode lottery as to whether the Animal Welfare Law is enforced or not.  Faye has dealt with cases where ponies had been in the same or worse condition than those shown in the RSPCA presentation and yet no prosecution was brought against the owners.  Instead you are expected to personally pay for a private prosecution - why should an individual be expected to pay to prosecute someone who has broken the law in this country...why doesn't this come from the same pot of money that is used to prosecute other offences?  She also stated that she has been at welfare situations where Defra, the Police, and Trading Standards all denied any responsibility of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and there should be a straight forward standard procedure.  Sometimes it seems more like the authorities would rather an animal just died, as it would be easier to pick up a dead body and not have to worry about any sort of investigation!

The RSPCA did state that the situation regarding equines in the UK at the moment is appalling and is disgraceful.  New legislation is about to come into force regarding fly grazing which will enable the authorities to act more quickly.  The passport system is a mess and the NED database won't be back in operation until 2016.

The costs involved regarding horses is huge and this a big problem for the enforcing authorities, particularly regarding the pick up of the animals.

Neil Parish was very supportive and re-iterated that moorland ponies are owned and all of them should be passported and microchipped without exception and owners held accountable for welfare situations - if owners can't look after animals properly, then they shouldn't keep them at all.

All the responses and discussion from the meeting will be put forward to Defra who are looking at making improvements to the legislation.  Most of the groups present felt the Act itself was satisfactory but it needs to be enforced!

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Beautiful Day

Beautiful day today - would love to have a few more days like this before spring arrives!  On Saturday morning we could see that both Exmoor and Dartmoor had a covering of snow...there was still some visible there today.

Snow on Exmoor
Gorse is in bloom
Frodo's fairly clean!

Ice patterns
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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Barnaby and Bisto Update

We've just had an update from Jenny about how Barnaby, Bisto and Barty are getting on - just wonderful, we are so happy that Barnaby and Bisto have found each other!
Barty, Barnaby and Bisto
 Jenny says "Just thought I'd send a little update on busy.  He's having no issues in the stable anymore. We had a brief patch where he was rearing in the stable but we worked on that and now hes happy as larry in there. Its nice and airy / bright which I think helps. Barnaby is getting on famously with him and they are learning each others boundaries now.  They are cantering on the lead rein when we are out together.  Which they both love. 

Bisto loves his free schooling over the jumps too and comes out with barty and I when barnaby is at school. So the belly is reducing.  I also think they play alot in the field. They playfight alot trying to bite each others back legs.  Barty looks at him like an annoying brother. Lol. Bisto also copies barty alot. Rolling, drinking and of course coming to the gate". 

Bisto had become upset at being stabled at his last loan home - something that he had never been worried about before.  Jenny's done a great job of making sure Bisto's comfortable about the stable again.

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Swampmonsters to Snow

 We're really into the depths of winter and I keep telling myself that we're in the worst part about 6 weeks time the days will be longer and there'll be some warmth in the sunshine...but right now there's lots of rain accompanied by mud.  It was Catherine and Faye who were the "swampmonsters" yesterday - we spent all day out in the pouring rain taking down fencing, having to finally relinquish the horse agility arena to the ponies so that they can have some extra grass.  It was so wet, the rain came through all the waterproofs and our hats.  We didn't take photos of ourselves at the end as it wasn't a pretty sight!  I am very grateful for Catherine's help as we did manage to get our mission achieved.

Topsy now has a new patch of lush grass to feast on, which she is really enjoying.  Tonight the snow was coming down heavily, laying on the banks, verges, road and telegraph poles.  You just never know what the weather is going to throw at you next!

Here comes the snow!

Anita and Rowan have sent this link to their latest video of Jeremy and Tilly with Gracie the greyhound, which is a joy to watch!

And lastly, happy birthday to Oscar who will be 13 years young tomorrow!

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Topsy In The Frosty Weather

We're delighted to see that Topsy has had a little write up published in the Naturally Healthy News magazine on her Serrapet progress.

Here's a short video of her in the frosty weather last week.  It makes me smile because she was feeling so sprightly she wanted to run down, but knew she couldn't because it was too slippery under hoof - hence the head twirl!  Then she is so careful following Peter down - she waits for him to safely negotiate the muddiest/slipperiest parts of the field before advancing...and then look how quickly she catches up with him at the end.  Unshod 4 hoof drive is sooo much quicker and more stable than us humans!  Earlier I'd tried to get in front of her to video but by the time I started videoing she'd caught up with me already because she was moving so fast!

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Monday, 5 January 2015


Joan has very kindly sent us a photo of Buffy and says that she's doing really well - Buffy is such a special pony and has such kind nature!

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!!  For lots of our supporters today is the first day of their 2015 calendar... and the star of this month is "Little" Ginger out in the snow!  I do keep thinking "Was there an avalanche after this photo was taken?" - there was so much snow on that tree!

"Little" Ginger (so named because there was another bigger pony also called Ginger staying at p4p at the time) was not a wild pony and was not owned by p4p - she came to stay temporarily with p4p due to slightly different circumstances.  Ginger had been out on loan with a family in the local area and was coming to the end of her stay and her owner had not been able to find her anywhere to go.  Ginger was an old pony, and an experienced riding pony, and was very loved by the people who had her on loan.  When Ginger's owner first got in touch (this must have been in 2009), p4p was full, and anyway, Ginger should have been able to find another loan home fairly easily with her super riding credentials.

Then, in January 2010, Cilla was contacted again about Ginger.  She still hadn't found a new loan home,  and although it was winter she was spending all her time in the stable due to laminitis.  Something sounded a bit worrying about the situation so Paul and Cilla agreed that Ginger could come to p4p temporarily.

When we met Ginger at her loan home she was very perky and cheerful looking over the stable door.  Her loaners were worried because Ginger couldn't go out on the grass but she also wouldn't eat hay and things had got to the stage that she wasn't passing much manure at all (quite a worrying sign for a pony!!) and she was losing weight.  They had called the vet out to see her and the vet had looked at Ginger and administered liquid paraffin...but it hadn't really helped.  Getting Ginger out of the stable it was obvious that she was desperate to eat the grass - she was quite clearly very hungry but she was obviously having big trouble with her teeth and she couldn't eat properly.   Why had the vet not looked at her teeth???

Ginger and the horse dentist
Anyway, Ginger came back to the farm and the horse dentist was called straight away - he kindly agreed to come out to Ginger as an emergency case the next day.  He found that Ginger had lost some teeth (as elderly horses do) on her lower jaw but the corresponding teeth on the upper jaw had grown so long, a bit like walrus tusks, and had bored holes into Ginger's lower gums.  The only way she could close her mouth was to line her upper teeth up to fit into the holes in her lower gums.  The dentist made her much more comfortable - after her first treatment she was able to start eating hay straight away.  Obviously the dentist couldn't do too much at once and came back a few more times at appropriate intervals.

 Ginger's feet had obviously been effected by her previous laminitis and these needed a lot of work and attention too.  Ginger's carers did love her very much but they just didn't realise what was wrong and what they needed to do to help her...and although they did try to do the right thing by paying for a vet to visit, unfortunately they didn't seem to be experienced either.

Before (left)... and Right - Ginger's front feet much improved

Ginger was quite a character at the yard. As an older pony she was a good companion to Mousie (who also stayed with us temporarily) and they were often found out grazing together.  Ginger was also quite a flirt with the younger boys!  Ginger was the only pony we've met who would make the most extraordinary roaring noises at the other ponies - visitors couldn't believe the noise and quite often would comment about it and ask "Did we have a donkey out in the field?"!

After a lot of care and rehab, Ginger went back to her owner in 2011 who had found a good, small livery yard close to home where there were knowledgeable horsey people who were willing to lend a hand.  Ginger seemed very happy there amongst all the larger horses - who obviously needed a good, retired, pony companion to keep them in line!

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