Monday, 31 October 2016

South Molton Apple Fair

Thank you so much to Jane, Archie, and everyone who came to support us at the Apple Fair in South Molton yesterday!  It was a really lovely event and so busy...and we were invited at very short notice due someone dropping out so we really appreciate everyone thinking of us!  Lots of lovely apples and every sort of variety you can think of and beyond...I think the ponies would have liked to be there "in person" to try all the different varieties! Thank you too to the Hancock family - it was lovely to see you again and thank you too for the samples to try!

We were just able to take a couple of photos once things went a bit quieter!  Altogether we raised £202.85 for the ponies!

Margaret and Jas stayed at the yard and pony sitted and got everything ready for the evening which was great!

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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Hallworthy Sale Update

We would like to thank everyone for their AMAZING support after we published our blog post about Hallworthy Market – over 34,000 shares on Facebook in 4 days is just phenomenal and has helped to raise so much awareness about this sale!  Thank you to everyone who has commented and shared their experiences of this sale.

I’m a bit surprised about the article published in the WestBriton paper – to set the record straight, one of our volunteers has already complained about the sale and did so on the 24th – we are in the process of submitting an official complaint to the authorities and have been putting together and reviewing all the information that we were able to gather at the sale.  I know other complaints have been made by individuals and that there will be more complaints which will be submitted and some of these will be from other equine organisations that were present.  As we saw no authorities there during the day, we were unable to complain on the day.  When I have seen an individual from a welfare organisation complain during a previous year at Hallworthy horse sale, I have seen them banned from the auction house by the auctioneer, even though their complaints have been upheld by authorities present. In previous years, individuals trying to record video of the sale were also banned by the auction house.

Our volunteer had a reply from Trading Standards which says that Trading Standards were not present at the pony sale (which confirms our statement)….and this is in writing from them!  This is what Trading Standards said… “I must also inform you that I was myself present at Hallworthy market on 22 October 2016 from 9:30 – 11:00am. I inspected both the poultry and small animals and pony sections prior to sale. As an animal health function of the Council we have a very limited budget and can longer resource attendance at all markets, further we do not pay over-time and staff are merely credited the hours worked outside of normal core hours. On this occasion I decided to allocate a short time for myself to visit and inspect both sales. I decided on this occasion to be there to inspect the animals prior to sale to assess fitness for sale and the conditions of penning. I detected no problems and left as the sale had begun. On other occasions I might arrive later in the day and watch the loading, I decided against this as I wanted to maximise the number and species of animals present to be inspected (the poultry tend to leave much sooner than the horses) – this ensures best use of the very limited resources available.”

The TS representative was only able to see animals before the sale started.  The trading standards email also says “As explained I was present from 9:30-11:00 and was in contact with the APHA duty vet who was on stand-by to attend if required” – the Defra vet was not there, only on “standby”.

This is the 7th year that we have attended Hallworthy market – and we have attended all the Devon and Cornwall wild pony markets in that time.  We have publically stated that in the last couple of years that standards had improved at Hallworthy – we do give positive feedback where we see it.  Unfortunately this year we could not say this, and if it means the auction house decides that we are banned from the market because we stated what we witnessed, then so be it.   We hope that next year standards will be back up, authorities will be present,  and that more positive reviews can be given again.  Perhaps CCTV is needed to monitor what takes place at the markets.   

We have already written to Devon Trading Standards as there was no presence from the authorities at the Devon wild pony sales either.  

In the meantime, reports coming in suggesting that live exports may have started again are not encouraging.

Perhaps our recently published report which revealed the bioaccumulation of toxicity of arsenic, beryllium, uranium, aluminium, and lithium in ponies from some areas on Bodmin Moor will put people off when they realise what they are passing into the food chains and how the toxicity is passed onto consumers!  Until the market next year, focus also needs to be on the moors themselves and promoting our research to improve welfare.  The Commons we tested need improvements to be made to ensure welfare - compulsory feeding by owners/authorities during the winter to prevent starvation (ponies must NOT be fed by the public), mineral provision all year around, and fencing off of water supplies that are toxic.

Fewer ponies bred + better welfare  = better prices + better advertising + private homes

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Bodmin Moor Pony Research Is Released!


At the beginning of 2016, People4ponies decided to undertake a ground-breaking research project into the causes of the large scale, annual, equine welfare problems on Bodmin Moor.  The results of the scientific testing on 2 Bodmin Commons have now been published on the People4ponies website and can be found on the following link:

The results revealed huge deficiencies of minerals on East Moor and a combination of factors contributing to starvation.

At Minions/Caradon Hill, the results revealed heavy metal toxicity onsite, ponies with bioaccumulation of heavy metals/toxic elements, and pasture deficient 6 out of 7 minerals (unable to provide even a minimum daily recommendation levels for breeding and non-breeding animals).  As the ponies are "farmed" animals there is potential for toxicity to be passed into the human food chain, or into consuming animals.

This research has the potential to end the welfare problems on Bodmin Moor...and we need your help to make this happen!

The results show that ponies on these commons need to have compulsory feeding of hay during the winter and mineral supplementation all year around.  It is very important that this comes from owners and/or from the Commoners' Council and the authorities.  The animals are owned and should NOT be fed by the public.  This can cause fighting between animals, cause the ponies to approach cars making them susceptible to road traffic accidents, and horses are susceptible to colic from eating the wrong foods.  At Minions/Caradon the toxic and unsuitable water supplies need to be fenced off and clean water supplies need to be provided.  

We would like to ask our supporters and the public to spread the word on social media about this research and to seek assurances from the Bodmin Commoners' Council, Defra, MPs Scott Mann (East Moor) and Sheryll Murray (Minions), and the big charities which have been involved on East Moor and Bodmin that the ponies are fed this winter, that clean water supplies are provided for livestock at Minions/Caradon and the dangerous water sources are sectioned off.  If hay is sourced from areas away from Bodmin the better mineral content would benefit the ponies.  If feeding cannot take place on the Commons, then ponies should be removed from the moor for the winter as already happens with cows and sheep.  

Between March and June 2016, the People4ponies blog highlighted to the media and the public the ongoing situation on East Moor where 23 ponies died and 42 ponies were seized in emaciated condition (see the link to the left of this posting).  Large scale problems have taken place on East Moor for many years.  During 2016 offers of hay drops for the ponies on East Moor were rejected by the authorities.  It is time action is taken to prevent these annual problems rather than only trying to act once there are animals in severely emaciated condition.

Whilst the round up on East Moor in September 2016 is a very positive step, supplementing the equine population throughout the winter is going to be a key factor in ensuring the survival of animals on this area of moorland. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 states that animals must be provided with a suitable environment, suitable diet, and be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Scenes such as these cannot be allowed to happen again:

Contact Details:
Sheryll Murray MP:
Scott Mann MP:
MP and Defra minister:
Defra: 0345 933 5577

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Hallworthy Market

It is very difficult to find the words to describe the horrendousness of today's sale at Hallworthy.  The last couple of years we had seen improvement but today was more like descending back into the dark ages...It is a total onslaught on the senses - the terrified animals - you can hear, see, smell, and feel the terror...they were terrified before the appalling handling by the staff and "helpers".  Even the catalogue now omits the names of those entering animals, presuming in an attempt to stop people complaining to the authorities!

No trading standards staff were present - they had been tasked with attending the poultry sale in the morning but they were told there was "no money" to send anyone for the pony sale, not even the Defra vets.

In all approximately 97 ponies/horses went through the ring - some making as little as £10.  One anomaly of a chestnut miniature making £1000 - we just can't imagine how this came about ...presumably some sort of set up??  18 ponies made £50 or less.  25 making between £50 and £100.  17 making between £100 and £200. 13 making up to £300.  5 made £1000 or more.

The handling was loud, over the top, and heavy handed..."staff" opening pens yelling at the animals to move - who could go nowhere with the staff stood in the gateway.  Absolutely terrified the whole pen would clamber up over each other in an attempt to get away - we saw one foal rear up and get stuck over the top of another foal, the one below collapsing in the end to get the other one off.  Panic stricken animals desperate to move and unable to get away.  All it would have taken would have been to quietly walk along the rail to the back and the ponies would have moved away without anyone even looking at them....Even in the relatively small ring there were 11 people standing in it at one stage with the ponies being sold.

The work that would be needed to undo the trauma caused to ponies at this sale would be considerable...but of course they are not here to have a long-term future...

...Almost all the ponies/horses went with 3 main meat dealers - everything from the wild foals to 16hh horses, neither domesticated nor wild were spared.  The blue alkathene pipe was in play.  One dealer loading up full with purchases, disappearing for half and hour, and then coming back to pick up the next shipment - they gloat over the whole performance enjoying the fact that the welfare groups are watching and there is nothing they can do to stop them.  Even if there is illegal activity NO-ONE from the authorities ever does anything to stop them.  The dealers that had disappeared after the horse meat scandal are now's time to ask questions here - has one door shut but another opened???    Where are they all going?  What we are seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg!

There didn't seem to be much hope for the few that went to non-dealer homes either.  One young girl - about 14 years old spent 15 minutes wrestling a wild foal in a pen in a battle of strengths until she forced a headcollar on it.  During loading it pushed out through the loading gates and ended up running around the car park - people desperate to keep it off the main road.  It was pursued by people around the car park for at least the next half an hour...

...Within the hour in a separate incident another foal escaped and again was off into the car park.

A car sized van reversed up to the loading bays - with the aim of loading a Shetland into the back - full of all sorts of things - we saw them being yelled at (not by the auction staff!) and told to go and get a horse trailer or the police would be called.

A pony was loaded into a trailer with no upper doors to fasten - just a sheet - a person was seen to travel in the back of the trailer trying to hold the flap down as they disappeared off on their journey to where-ever they were going...

Another private home trying to cram ponies in the lorry - they loaded some, tried to add more, they all came flying out, loaded again, and one of the horses was going to jump the gates that were shut so the woman whacked it over the head as hard as she could and ran for the ramp to shut it.

There were so many incidents...

Two ponies had earnotches - illegal mutilations which the farmers know they are not allowed to carry out.  These ponies also went onto the back of the meat lorry.

No food was provided for the horses and as the sale nears its end some horses start chewing the bars and the chalkboards to get some relief...

...This is another day where Bodmin and Cornwall should be ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED.

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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Sometimes A Photo Says A Thousand Words...

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Brendon Sale and P4P Horse Dentist Visit

A busy day again today with another market and then back to the yard for a visit from the horse dentist for Bobby and Wolfie.

It was Brendon Sale today and as usual there was no planned catalogue.  There were horses penned in a barn - 8 foals of different colours/sizes and another young horse.  There were 2 cobs for sale in the field,,,and puppies, chickens and ducks.  Usually the horses are auctioned after the sheep sale but it turned out that there was no planned auction of horses today and they were just open for private offers.  Haynets were provided for the horses but no water.  One local lady asked for water to be provided but her request was met with hostility but she did pursue the matter and the horses were provided with a bucket of water which they drank until it was empty.

Another member of the public made some enquiries about whether any authorities were present - there were no authorities at the sale.  They were concerned because one person selling animals is well known locally to be banned from keeping animals - very difficult situation when there are no authorities present to keep an eye on things.

Many thanks to Gill for her donation of £10 to the p4p ponies and to Angela for her donation yesterday from the beginnings of her quadbike expeditioning (to be continued next year)

Back at the yard this afternoon we were pleased to see Bill who came to work with Bobby and Wolfie for their dental check up!

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Chagford Dartmoor Pony Sale

Today was the annual Dartmoor Pony Sale at Chagford.  Thank you so much to Vanessa, Angela, and Thea who all came to sale, and to Roy and Margaret who looked after the p4p ponies whilst we were at the sale.

There were 143 ponies entered in the catalogue for the sale but not all were actually brought to the sale, including the donkeys that had been scheduled to be sold.  There were approximately 115 entries, of which approximately 30 were unsold.  There was a very different atmosphere at the sale this year - there were fewer ponies generally in the pens and the ponies were in good condition.  There were lots of private buyers with trailers.

There is still no provision of water.   Whilst there were still dealers buying - they were mostly local.  There were none of the large scale long distance traders seen in the days before the exposure of the horse meat scandal.  There was no attendance by Trading Standards or Defra, so no enforcement agencies were present.

Spotted ponies were still making the most money - one going for £300, another for £250. 

 Approximately 20 ponies were sold for £10; 5 for between £10 and £19; 13 for £20; 30 for between £22-£99; 9 for £100 or more; 6 for £200 or more; 2 for £300 or more.  The 2 ridden ponies went unsold as their reserves were not met. 

The foal in the photo above was the youngest at the sale - they were appropriately penned at the beginning of the sale, separated in their own pen.  After being sold they were not appropriately penned and were added to a pen already full of other sold animals - disappointingly, this was done by the welfare officer of another charity who should know that The Welfare of Horses at Market 1990 requires a mare with a foal at foot to be separately penned - section 11, part 2(c).

The loading varied - one pony attempted to jump out a pen before loading was even attempted.  One set of private buyers used their purple lunge whip to hit ponies to try to get them loaded into their horsebox.  With no authorities to oversee loading there were trailers that were crammed full with foals.

Our thoughts are always with the animals sold after the sale...on their journeys to wherever they are going and that they can find kind, knowledgeable homes.  It is good that far fewer ponies are being brought to the sale but of course, that doesn't mean there are fewer ponies being bred and brought off the moors - it just means the others will be going straight for other purposes, either shot on the farms or for human consumption.

                                                           Year  -  Number of ponies entered in catalogue
2016 -   140
2015  -  175
2014  -  214
2013  -  212
2012  -  250
2011  -  433
2010  -  434

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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Thank you to Verm-X

Thank you very much to everyone at Verm-X for giving the P4P ponies a discount on their wormer,   It's very popular and all the ponies absolutely love it!  Topsy has been first to give it a try and it was a "thumbs up" from our grand old lady (36 years and looking fabulous!).  The chickens were after the seeds in her bowl - they get their own Verm-X - Topsy wasn't going to let them eat her special snacks!
Beautiful lady!
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Monday, 3 October 2016

Dartmoor Ponies

We've had our first phone call of the season today - asking if we can give any homes to 20 ponies rounded up on Dartmoor that are unmarked - have no owners, and are due to be shot.  The Flicka Foundation have posted about this on their Facebook page this evening (do check this out if you think you can help).  We are full and can't take any ponies at the moment and it's always horrible to have to say "No"...

As the season is upon us again, awareness needs to be raised about what happens on Dartmoor.  It will not just be the unmarked ponies that are shot.  The majority of foals coming off the moors will be too.  The overbreeding needs to end!  This page on our website explains the current situation on Dartmoor and the reasons for why the mass culling happens every spread the word as it seems many people are still not aware of what happens...

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Sunday, 2 October 2016


As it's the beginning of October everyone will have turned over their P4P calendars to find beautiful Topsy hiding behind a very autumnal tree!  This photo was taken in one of Topsy's special "grandmotherly" privilege fields where the other ponies are not allowed.  I went to get her in for her dinner and was met by this scene - obviously she was quite content in the field!

Autumn is well and truly upon us now - the ponies' winter coats are already quite a way along...they are getting quite fluffy!  The mud is on it's way too so we're trying to get the mats down before it gets too bad.  Archie came to lend a hand yesterday and we need to wish him a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY for tomorrow.

October comes with mixed feelings - it's great because the grass is changing and the ponies will come off their summer restrictions and have much more space and grazing as we move into the winter...

...But the pony markets will be starting next week - a hugely stressful time for the wild ponies...and we'll be back into that cycle of  hundreds of unwanted foals being shot and the whole media spin of trying to build a meat trade...the minority trying to influence the majority by refusing to remove their stallions from the moor and forcing ethical owners to have unwanted foals.  It's a year since Mousey was killed too - so many ethical issues come to the fore at this time of year...I often think that Topsy being so ancient is probably the only survivor of her generation from the Bodmin Common she came from.

...One thing's for always makes me think of how lucky our ponies are...thank you so much everyone for your support that enables us to be here!

Just a last note...The P4P calendar for 2017 has now been added to the "Shop" section of the main P4P website so copies can now be ordered from the following link:  Thank you to everyone who has already ordered their copy!

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