Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Barnaby and Bisto Having Fun

We were really delighted to receive more photos of Bisto and Barnaby this weekend - they are having lots of fun together!  Bisto was such a lucky boy to find Barnaby and his Mum!

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Snow Showers

This was the view into the yard this morning...and it's been blustery snow showers off and on all day - it only settles for a very short time.  It's been so wet the last few days and it's a good time to remind ourselves that February is usually the worst part of the year and is the end to the winter.  Topsy started shedding the longest hairs of her winter coat on Thursday so she obviously knows that spring is only just around the corner! 

All the volunteers have been off ill at different stages throughout February - I don't think we've ever had a time where everyone was off with flu, colds, and even more serious complaints in such a short period of time.  Even Faye's finally succumbed to a cold - probably inevitable!  

 Thank you everyone for their Easyfundraising efforts over Christmas - this week the ponies received the sum of £24.52, which is a great effort...and takes our overall total raised to £284.48... thank you!  Thanks also go to Jean for donating some rugs for us to sell.

We were pleased to meet Faie, Rachel and Rowan this week who came to see the ponies.  We hope they'll come back to see us again!
Arthur wanted to show Peter his latest rosette!
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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Liberty Horse Agility Challenge

Rocky and Arthur having been having a go at the February Horse Agility Liberty Challenge.  It's quite a challenge for us, well done boys!  Thank you very much to Jenny for videoing us!

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Sara's Bicycle

Sara came down with her bicycle today so it was a good opportunity for Arthur to do some bicycle training.  We know he's good with cars and tractors but he was untested as far as bicycles are concerned...he was brilliant...this little pony keeps going from strength to strength!

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Clever Arthur!

Thank you again to Catherine and Victoria for coming over today to help with Arthur's training.  We've been practising getting on and off - and making sure he feels happy with the feeling of carrying a person.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Hot Branding Code of Conduct

Since Defra finalised the hot branding code of conduct over a year ago, we haven't been able to obtain a copy of it...almost like it's a mysterious secret only kept behind closed doors!  We didn't get a copy through parliamentary routes...we wrote to the Defra helpdesk, and they told us to contact the Exmoor or Dartmoor Pony Societies for a copy...and guess what...the societies didn't even respond to our requests!

So...after trawling through 170 papers on the House of Lords library website...here is the link to the code of conduct for those who are interested in reading a copy:


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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Pack Pony Adventure

Arthur has been a pack pony today - the next step in his training, adding to his skills of being a Horse Agility pony and a footballing pony!

Poor Margaret is out of action with flu, so we hope she starts to feel better soon!  Peter came to help yesterday so he spent some time with Arthur and we took him out for a short walk.  Archie and Sara made a surprise visit in the afternoon and they volunteered to help with cleaning through the bedding - so we did that together as a team effort!

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Training Can Commence Again!

Finally it's dry enough weather to start doing things with the ponies again!  Here's Arthur having a practice with a bareback pad as a step towards getting him back to being ridden - we'll see how he gets on.  He's increased a lot in confidence since he arrived...Victoria led him down the road and he seemed absolutely fine about everything.

Arthur and Rocky won joint third place in their Horse Agility competition but didn't score any league points...we were still pleased with what they achieved though!  Arthur did score full marks for his ball kicking!  Vanessa commented that she thought Arthur was sabotaging Rocky's round!

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

February's Here!

We have Jane Schofield to thank for taking this wonderful photo of very handsome Gus (shortened from his full name Augustus Caesar!) who is February's calendar star.

Gus was another of the stallions from the original p4p herd and started his handling at the beginning of August 2003.  He was another of the ponies who was extremely fearful, particularly around men, and had obviously not had any positive experiences of people!  Looking at Cilla's notes about catching Gus in the field reminds me of how "ritualistic" traumatised ponies are in these early stages of gaining confidence with people - everything has to be right and done in exactly the same way "The body language, the calm weather, the sun behind him so he could see me clearly, not too near the hedge (predators!), no cars passing, no funny clothes (usually wetproofs!), no funny walks (if the going is slippery we do unexpected slides! very off putting if you're Gus), the usual headcollar, put on the usual way (no hands over the head please), and preferably a piece of apple afterwards".
Gus (far left) arrives at his loan home and meets his new companions!
Gus progressed well but remained very fearful of strangers.  He found a home as a companion for two horses, and happily lived with them for some time.  Then he returned back to p4p (I can't remember why, maybe loss of grazing?) and Jane very kindly agreed that Gus could live with Apache and Ebony conservation grazing on her land - perfect for Gus!  Ebony in particularly was rather taken with Gus and favoured him over Apache.  They were a very happy little group enjoying their time in the valley together.  During the hard, cold winter of 2010, Jane supplemented the ponies with hay to make sure they had plenty to eat.  The weather made for some lovely photos of frosty ponies!
Frosty ponies - Ebony, Apache and Gus
In the early autumn of 2011 we received a phone call from Jane, understandably very upset...Gus was dead.  We couldn't believe it, we were all so shocked!  As you can see from his calendar photo, this pony was a picture of health.  Jane checks the ponies twice a day, every day to make sure they are OK.  She had checked them in the morning, all looked fine and normal, and then going back in the afternoon, there was Gus lying dead in the field.  He had almost certainly suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly - having dealt with many dead moorland ponies, the site usually tells a story, and in Gus' case there was absolutely no sign of any sort of struggle...he'd literally been stood upright one moment and was dead the next.  His body even looked perfect - no marks or anything to show anything wrong on the outside.  Even if Jane had seen anything was wrong, I'm sure he'd have been gone in an instant, there was absolutely nothing she could have done.  Ebony and Apache must have been there when it had all happened ...they seemed very accepting of the whole situation, grazing as if all was normal, just a little distance away.

...So February's photo is a tribute to Gus, not a sad photo, but one to celebrate this handsome pony!

 I think Gus really had the best life he could have once he was at p4p and got to live his life to the full - and particularly living out in the pony paradise where he was.  We are committed to our ponies for their whole life - to try and give them the best life possible and I think Gus knew that he had just that.

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