Sunday, 18 October 2015


We are absolutely devastated to learn of the death of Mousey last week...sadness, disappointment and anger are the feelings we have about how this has come to pass.  As a mark of respect to Mousey we'd like to pay tribute to her story here:

At the beginning of October 2009, as you can see in the top left photo, a very frightened pony arrived at Horseford Farm.  Our friend Vanessa Bee had visited an organisation who asked her for help with an unhandleable pony they had rescued from a market - Mousey.  She was a very complicated case.  As well as being petrified, people with a little bit of knowledge of wild pony handling techniques had tried to work with Mousey...but all they had done was taught her to evade them.  She also presented her rear end, which people interpreted as a threat to kick (which she never actually followed through on).  On seeing how traumatised Mousey was, and knowing the specialist skill and the many hours of long-term, daily rehab needed to help her, it was recommended she visit Paul King at People4ponies.

On arriving, Mousey was paired with Frodo to help her settle in.
Cilla commented "Today we put Frodo in the pen with Mousey.
She was very pleased to see him and they immediately groomed each other
vigorously.  In fact she would hardly let him stop; he wanted to eat
her hay but she positioned herself in front of it and demanded more grooming!"
Mousey turned out to be (at the time) the worst case of trauma that Paul had ever worked with.  Mousey's ears had been mutilated when she was a moorland pony - the top had been cut off her right ear and she had a sheep tag in the left ear which had also grown into her ear.  She didn't just have the fear of a wild, moorland pony...she had extreme trauma from the handling and pain associated with carrying out these mutilations - as far as Mousey was concerned, humans were very dangerous - they would try to hurt or kill her.

Mousey was with us during the very cold and snowy winter of 2010!
Moorland ponies know just how to find grass in the snow!
(They did have hay as well of course!)
Paul's work was made all the more difficult because his usual techniques were rendered nearly useless!  He had started handling her from the bottom forwards (because this is what she presented him with!) and she didn't kick out at him...but getting near her face to headcollar her was a different story - she didn't want people anywhere near her face.  Even if you put a rope around her neck to keep her with you, she had learnt to turn to a certain angle which meant Paul had no control at all!   I remember going into the kitchen seeing Paul sat in his usual chair with his head in his hands saying "Nothing's working!...What am I going to do?!".  We didn't have any answers for him but we only knew he always found a way - thinking out of the box and inventing new techniques.  Each case was different with different traumas or problems to overcome.

Mousey's first walk out, which could happen
soon after her first headcollaring!
In hindsight we understand why Mousey didn't want her head touched.  Mousey had "trauma tiggers" which are areas of her body which when touched triggered flashbacks to the time of the mutilations - along with this she would experience extreme fear and shake her head/pull away.  Paul could interact with Mousey and groom her but he was out of options for working towards headcollaring which is considered an essential skill for any pony.

Eventually Paul arranged a sort of crush - which meant he could then work with her without her swinging around.  He could desensitise around her head and then work towards Mousey accepting the headcollar.  This was a success and from there he was able to move forward on all areas - leading, picking up her feet and further desensitising around her head and ear.  She could be headcollared and unheadcollared as long as you did it in a particular way - almost like a secret code that meant you were trustworthy!  Paul so desperately wanted to remove the tag for Mousey - he was able to desensitise her enough to cut the tag but it was so badly imbedded into her ear it wouldn't pop out.  At least cutting off a section of tag meant she wouldn't risk ripping it out and more harm.

This photo shows how fearful Mousey was about humans touching her ears.
The ones below shows her improving and then Paul working towards picking up her feet.

The many hours of work pay off!  Mousey
now accepts all the routine tasks/skills
expected of a "normal" pony!  


All our volunteers became familiar with Mousey's particular routines and everyone could head collar her, groom her, pick out her feet and catch her in the field. The culmination of her time at p4p was an excursion to the Rescue Horse and Dog show in August 2011 where she also participated in her first ever Horse Agility course with Paul!
This was the first time Mousey
had ever attempted Horse Agility!

Mousey was at p4p when Faye started our campaigning work and Mousey's presence and extreme fear helped spur her on to pursue the subject of equine ear mutilations and tagging which we managed to stop in 2010 whilst Mousey was staying with us.  Whilst working on this project at a market, Faye inadvertently came across the meaning of the ERC printed on Mousey's ear tag - the initials of a particular breeder on Bodmin Moor, so that's where Mousey had come from...little pieces of her story that we discovered along the way.

When the time came, Cilla was assured that Mousey's future would be secure by the organisation that owned her...But when Mousey returned, the two staff members who had come for training with Mousey to ensure her long term care were told they were not to have any part in Mousey's handling....and of course over time they ended up leaving their employment there.  Mousey would have been welcome back to us at any time.  She was such a sweet pony - when you have to work so hard to prove you are trustworthy - it is even more rewarding and special when the pony knows you are the safest thing in the whole world and everything will be OK as long as they are with you.  There was always a place for Mousey at p4p.

We know we are not responsible for what has come to pass but this little pony deserved so much better.  Run free little Mousey...


 Sunrider said...

Who are the people that had to take this precious pony back from p4p? I don't unsterstand why is she no longer with us? She looks like a complete stunner and you did amazingly.
18 October 2015 at 10:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What has come to pass is heartbreaking, callous, and unforgivable. There were people who loved and cared for this pony, and she was supposed to be protected. To echo your words - she deserved so much better.
18 October 2015 at 10:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Mousey belonged to South West Equine Protection - now known as The Pony Sanctuary. She returned to them after her rehabilitation at p4p. We were assured that even if she were not rehomed, she would have a safe haven with them for the rest of her life.
I have more to say but decided to post this in answer to Sunrider.
Cilla King
18 October 2015 at 11:13

Anonymous said...
Very sad to read that Mousey has been killed, she was a dear little pony who was promised life long care and no more trauma. I am appauled to hear she has been destroyed. The work P4P did with her was amazing, she really did trust you. If her owners could not find a home for her then she should have been returned to P4P, surely they knew you would take good care of her and she would never suffer trauma again.
RIP dear Mousey, you are free from fear and no one can ever let you down again.
18 October 2015 at 15:17

 Anonymous said...
How devastating, no surprise she could not trust anyone if this is what ended up happening, sorry for your lost.
18 October 2015 at 15:50
Sunrider said...
Thank you Cilla King for replying, what you have said sounds like these people did not have any interest in helping mousey and just wanted her gone, you say this is a charity? I thought charities were ment to rescue animal not end their lives? This is a disgrace to charities that are helping the less fortunate, I hope people can learn that not all charities are this way inclined but the ones that are need closing, may you be over that rainbow bridge mousey.
18 October 2015 at 15:59

 Anonymous said...
I am in shock about what has been done to Mousey. She survived Bodmin and her appalling treatment there, was shown that trusting humans was Ok after all then killed by the very people who said they were her rescuers. Just cannot believe they are called The Pony Sanctuary now what a hollow joke.
What excuse do they have for killing her? And please don't trot out that old chestnut that she had a Brain Tumor I have heard that used so often...autopsy report please or do all 'difficult' horses have brain tumors? It seems a regular excuse now for people who don't have the relevant handling skills and egos too big to admit it.
18 October 2015 at 16:53
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Poor Mousey, after you put so much time and effort into gaining her trust. She never got the chance to go to a home where she would know what love and devotion was. Instead she was stuck in a fake sanctuary who signed her death warrant. I agree with the person who said they will probably come up with some poor excuse when in reality it was because they do not have the expertise to bring extremely traumatised ponies on and their are too many huge egos that only think of themselves and their gains. Their welfare officer is a joke, rarely answers her phone, doesn't respond to messages left and blags her way out of tight spots by telling lies. Damn right Mousey deserved better, Mousey wasn't rescued. She was used and abused, she still is as I notice she is still up for adoption; such deception. I for one have lost all faith in that charity.
18 October 2015 at 20:35
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have been trying to put into words my feelings about what has happened. We are so shocked, and It is so poignant to read about Mousey. I have been looking back at the people4ponies blog, from 2009 and then such great progress in 2010. Mousey taught us so much - I have many more hand written notes about the daily sessions.

I want everyone to know what a sweet pony she was, about the bravery we saw as she tried to do what was required of her - please look at her again - she is also on Youtube.

When she was returned to them the SWEP staff who spoke to us about Mousey's handling were very interested in the techniques used and were keen to continue with Mousey's education. I should have realised that, over time, the knowledge may not have been passed on.

This tribute blog underlines our pain and feelings of betrayal.

It also shows that Mousey gave an impetus to the anti-mutilation cause, and that she helped us to vastly increase and practise our techniques of handling traumatised ponies. If only all those who work with such ponies, would open their minds and hearts to the knowledge we would always so willingly impart - we had done our best and believed it was enough. This article about her, including what has just happened, and our memories and pictures now make an important chapter in the battle against ignorance and Mousey will never be forgotten.

I found this with my other notes about Paul and Mousey.

.......and the man cried......the sudden, overwhelming tears of despair......and the pony, maybe sensing the vulnerability of her would-be handler, came forward to allow her capture.


thea holly said...
It's clear how much love and dedication went into caring for Mousey, by P4P, and utterly unforgiveable that she was so brutally betrayed by the charity that owned her, S.W.E.P/The Pony Sanctuary. People who support this so-called pony charity should be asking some very serious questions about their motives. The photographs show very clearly how P4P's total commitment to this dear little pony created miracles and my heart aches for those involved in that transformation. At least now Mousey is at peace.
18 October 2015 at 22:31

Vanessa Bee said...
I am in shock about this terrible crime, can hardly comment the tears are blurring my vision. How could SWEP do such a wicked thing? I have tried so hard over the years to help them but the ever changing staff (wonder why that is?) just made any continuity impossible. Mousey did not deserve to be treated in such a disposable manner. If we cannot reach the so called 'rescue' centres what hope is there? I feel so desperate for all the ponies, what hope is there?
Cilla's post has completely floored me, the trust that little pony showed in Paul is a testament to his humility and dedication. Whenever we handle a 'wild' or traumatized pony we make a promise that it will be safe forever but I don't think any of us believed that her so called 'rescuers' would be so dishonest. What other crimes have they committed to generate money for their 'charity'? I am disgusted.
19 October 2015 at 14:57

Anonymous said...
Two other ponies were killed with Mousey, one a pure Dartmoor with a treatable medical condition.
It has been said the charity now has a kill list in order to get numbers down. If true I am beyond disgusted. If a large number of ponies suddenly end up dead I can't imagine its because they were all sick, if they were that would suggest poor management.
19 October 2015 at 23:31

Blogger Vanessa Bee said...
Good news! I heard today that an autopsy was carried out on Mousey. I have suggested that if SWEP would publish this document then it would help us all come to terms with her death. At the moment we all believe it was unjustified but if the autopsy has said she had a brain tumour and (now I hear) liver failure as well then at least we could have some closure. I look forward to seeing the published document.
Mousey was an adoption pony apparently I hope all those who paid for an adoption will be kept in the picture too, what a horrible time for everyone. But if we were just kept informed how much easier it would be to cope with the pain.
20 October 2015 at 17:33
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have read this post over and over again hoping I was reading it wrong. I am beyond sad to see lovely Mousey has been pts, when I last saw her in June she was in great shape. I just can't believe she went down hill so quickly.
I remember watching Paul working with her and being completely amazed with his techniques and learned so much from our stay. I felt honoured that Mouse let me and my collegue in her trust circle. The way Paul, Cilla and Faye work with ponies is probably the best horsemanship I have ever witnessed (along with Vanessa, of course).
Run free beautiful Mousey, feel no fear x
20 October 2015 at 21:32

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I too would need to see a veterinary autopsy report because what they claim seems so far from the truth. Why is there no mention of her passing in their communications, nor the other ponies...or in their newsletter...and why is she still up for sponsorship?? Usually charities are so quick to let people know the sad passing of their animals, especially sponsored ones.
20 October 2015 at 22:58

 Margaret said...
On the llth October I applied to sponsor Mousey not knowing that she had already been dead for some days.

Now, 10 days later, I have still had no contact from SWEP. No sponsorship pack (as detailed on the web site), no explanation,
no apology and no refund of the £27.50 I paid on my credit card.
Perhaps someone from SWEP would like to tell me "Why"
21 October 2015 at 18:02

Anonymous Susan Hockey said...
I have been involved in fundraising for SWEP and campaigning on behalf of the Bodmin ponies for the last two years. I have just drafted a long letter which I will send to them tomorrow. 'My'rescue pony Ruby, a very elderly mare, was also destroyed and I would like some answers about the processes and procedures in place there.
26 October 2015 at 19:48

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Ruby used to be on the front of the SWEP web page with the slogan/promise of life-long care for moorland ponies - now there is a different photo with the slogan "Rescuing and Rehoming Equines in Need"...are they no longer providing long term sanctuary for ponies? If there is a change in policy I think their supporters should be made aware. This year in the SWEP spring newsletter we were told "We never give up on a pony and we believe there is a home out there for each and every one of our ponies". Is this no longer the case?
26 October 2015 at 23:10

Blogger Vanessa Bee said...
For the record:
I was contacted by two members of SWEP staff on my mobile and once by Maureen Rolls on my landline soon after Mousey was shot. An answerphone message was deleted by my husband as he felt it was too destructive for me to hear(and I am not a weak and feeble woman!). At no time within the last year have I telephoned any member of staff or volunteer currently employed at the SWEP charitable organisation. If anyone would like to dispute this, my landline and mobile telephone records are available to prove this.

I have taken legal advice and am prepared to defend my reputation if I feel it is being threatened by others who are using my name in order to validate their lies.

I still await the autopsy on Mousey
27 October 2015 at 15:01

Blogger said...
Thank you so much everyone for your contributions and support. Keep asking your questions! We owe it to Mousey, Ruby and Honey and the ponies on the moor...
30 October 2015 at 11:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...
If this is all about money then it doesn't really make sense...other charities and sanctuaries are running on much less money - and with far more animals in their daily care...including elderly animals who are into their 40s...and far fewer staff. Recruiting another member of staff takes them up to 10 staff and a grant of £10,000 for a new van....surely more could be spent on the animals themselves.

The next set of published accounts will be due to be published very soon on the Charity Commission website. In the last set - over 1.3 million pounds was raised...£220,130 was actually spent on "provision of sanctuary and welfare"...£110,519 on staff costs....but an incredible £900,692 was paid in collection agent fees. I know some charities do use companies to raise funds but this means very little of every pound donated was actually going to the ponies themselves :0(
2 November 2015 at 12:38

Blogger Vanessa Bee said...

I don't want this important issue to just get forgotten.

The three ponies in question, Mousey, Ruby and Honey all had homes to go to and SWEP knew that.

I don't believe there was anything wrong with these ponies except that they were OLD and therefore a NUISANCE - watch out - people get old too....

So I am throwing down the gauntlet SWEP. If you want to stop this discussion prove me wrong. Prove that each pony was at death's door.

So far I have the following list of ailments.

At first it was:
a brain tumor
then liver failure was added
then condition score one (photos have disproved this),
no teeth (I kept our 32 year old pony all through last winter on a haynet in a tub, a recipe from the wonderful Veteran Horse Society) 38 years old (so what? with my old girl my vet, who called regularly to check her health agreed that just putting a pony to sleep because it was old was unfair)

This is just a list of excuses without an autopsy.
I promised Mousey that she would be safe. She was betrayed, other ponies will be betrayed unless we keep this discussion active. SWEP know they are being watched now, if we turn away I have no doubt it'll just be business as usual.
3 November 2015 at 10:44
 Anonymous said...
Mouseys story was brought to my attention.I was disgusted with SWEP with what they had done.This is what they say they stand for.1 To relieve the suffering and give care and attention to equines in need.2 AND IN PARTICULAR TO PROVIDE OR MAINTAIN HOMES OR OTHER FACILITIES FOR THE RECEPTION AND CARE OF UNWANTED EQUINES OR ABUSED,ILL TREATED AND HELP ONES THAT ARE SICK.I wonder how many they have murdered be for mousey,ruby and honey.I now believe that SWEP no longer stands for south west equine protection,but now its S save then shoot W waste peoples time E economical with the truth P PASSPORT TO KILL PONIES.They have changed the name now to the pony sanctuary after reading the way they conduct themselves the new name is a joke.Sanctuary means a safe place,an area where animals or wildlife is protected.If they have a shred of decency left they will sign over the ponies that are to be murdered TO P4P
11 November 2015 at 20:48
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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Hallworthy Horse Sale

Today was Hallworthy Horse Sale in Cornwall, the only sale now available for the wild ponies on Bodmin.  There were a variety of horses and ponies entered including some domesticated riding horses - 76 lots entered in all.  This is a significant reduction in numbers to previous years.  This did mean that the pens were quite well organised and all the ponies entered met the requirement of being in "good" condition.  Young foals were arranged to be sold alongside their mothers.  Very few had hay brought by their owners but water is available in the pens in drinkers.  No bedding was provided.

Handling to separate the wild ponies for the sale ring does vary greatly between handlers - some being quieter, others not, and some even taking to pulling on the tails of the animals.  Towards the end of the day the pressure washing of the floor was taking place with ponies still in their pens waiting for collection!

Prices were much higher than at Chagford but there were meat buyers - two big Irish lorries were filled.  It was commented that they were prepared to bid up to £200 for a Bodmin pony - they were bidding higher on larger domesticated horses - up to £500.  Four registered Shetland fillies sold for £150, £220, £140 and £170.  Moorland foals just taken from their mothers (known as suckers here) were selling from £40-£200.  The lowest bids seemed to be £15 for a miniature Shetland colt and around £25 each for a couple of yearlings and a miniature foal, which would cover the cost of the passporting and microchipping by the owners.

No official authorities were present to monitor the sale.

Here are some sale statistics for Hallworthy - numbers of horses,ponies and donkeys entered per sale for the last 6 years.  When there were two sales, the animals appearing at the second sale seemed to be different to the first (i.e not just the unsold brought back again).  Since 2014 there has only been one sale per year.

             September        October     Total
2010          482                  241          723
2011          315                  236          551
2012          203                  159          362
2013          217                   80           297
2014        No sale              245          245
2015        No sale              76              76


One new horse owner happy with her purchase!
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Friday, 16 October 2015

Brendon Fair

There were just 3 equines for sale at Brendon Fair today - 2 foals and a much older colt.  It was good to see that they had hay provided for them and there was some bedding provided in the barn.  Although there were bids offered, none made the reserve price so all went unsold.
These foals were both described as Clydesdale X (TB X Exmoor).
The colt foal on the right had bids up to £200 but was unsold.
The filly foal on the left had bids up to £50 and was unsold.

This colt (described as expected to make 15.2hh) reached £180 in the bidding but was unsold.

This horse was tied to the pen but was not actually for sale.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Happy Ponies

We've been delighted to see Carol, Chester and p4p pony Basil today - it's always nice to see our loan ponies and catch up with their many of our ponies have wonderful long-term homes and having been to the market last week only makes me even more appreciative of how lucky our ponies are!
Gorgeous Basil!
We saw Munchkin last week too who has done a really good job of keeping himself in shape and is very happy with Stella and Pete and his friend Nutkin the horse!

Thank you everyone for your support in sharing on social media our posts about the market last week and the Dartmoor issues - and to everyone who got in contact, I've just about managed to catch up with all the emails...and thank you also to everyone who has already bought their People4ponies calendar!  We've sold 14 since last Friday and lots of people are getting involved with selling them to raise money for our ponies...we can't thank you enough  :0)

There are two more pony markets later this more market news soon...

Beautiful sunset yesterday!

...and a mystical misty morning captured on our travels

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