Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mud, Mucking Out and Haynets

This is always the hardest part of the year - the last part of winter is always a slog - lots of rain... mud...the most hay to feed...which inevitably leads to more mucking out!  Whilst it is a slog there are always hints of promise...of a corner about to be turned...the days are getting longer/lighter, when the sun comes out there's a hint of warmth (so only 4 jumpers are needed rather than 6 to keep warm!), Topsy and Munchie are losing their coats, and when it's dry for a couple of days the mud actually starts to dry up a little bit...snowdrops and daffodils are out so spring is on it's way!! 🌞

We're so lucky to have the big concrete yard that the ponies have access to all the time. The ponies are so grateful for their extra herbs too...and for the extra apples Thea donated for them last week.  We'd also like to thank Roy, Margaret, Faie and Rachel who helped out last week so Faye could have 3 days off in a row - the first time off since 2013...thank you!

Dan had a foray on Saturday morning into Topsy's field which he really enjoyed!  He came down from the pony field to find the double gates just happened to be open...and the grass really is a lot greener on the other side!

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Snow Ponies

We had snow showers this morning - although they lasted all morning they didn't settle - it was nice to see some snow but without any real extreme weather conditions!

Munchie's progressing well
with his rehab

Thank you to Roy for coming over to do some extra tractor work for us this afternoon - assisted by Archie in the yard too.  Margaret's been keeping the ponies stocked up with apples too which they really do appreciate!

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Friday, 3 February 2017

Bodmin Update - East Moor

Some of our supporters have been asking for a Bodmin update and whether we think there will be problems with the livestock this year...

...Last Sunday (29th January) we went to the Common which we highlighted with our welfare blog last year - where at least 23 ponies died and 42 were seized in emaciated condition.  It is certainly the area of Bodmin that received the most attention...so this is what we found last weekend...click on the photos to enlarge them.

The Environment...The weather last weekend on East Moor really helped to show how bleak and poor the environment is up there...this Common is only approximately 3 miles in area, which might sound like a big area but this is what the animals have to eat...

"The better area" - one of the "river" channels where the grass is a little better than on the higher parts

The higher areas - very wet and the
 vegetation is extremely poor

The marsh areas - and lichen on
 the trees

The skull of one of last year's dead ponies 
When there is a rare patch of green grass, it is so intensively
used, particularly by the cows, that they are turning into latrine areas.
 The Livestock...On the 29th we saw 3 herds of beef cows - approximately 75 cows.  One herd was being fed on the moor and we saw them running to meet the farmer.

On the opposite side to the fed herd were two herds of thin beef cows - we passed the photographs on to Trading Standards, who in turn informed Animal Health and the Commoners Council, who we were told would visit the following day.  These cows were still out on the moor on the 3rd February.  They are clearly not able to get enough sustenance to maintain their body weights - as the photos show - spine, pelvis, hips and ribs all clearly visible.  

We didn't see any sheep out on the moor.
Thin beef cow with pelvis, hip, ribs and spine visible

Some of the ponies which were part of the September round-up have "disappeared" and haven't been seen for 2 weeks - they had tags in their mane and were spray painted.  We think that they must have been removed from the moor by their owner(s).  

There are 2 "unmarked" pony herds - some of these ponies were removed before the September round-up and then put back out after it had happened.  Whilst they wouldn't be considered thin yet, they have clearly lost their summer reserves now, the mares are pregnant and the spring grass doesn't come until May.  We will be watching...the ponies are still a concern to us, as are the cows!

                             So Bodmin is still an area to be watched this year!

Just for comparison - the photos below were taken on the north side of Dartmoor - just 25 miles away - they were taken the same day as the Bodmin photos and Dartmoor looks so much greener and so different to Bodmin!

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

It's February!

For those of you turning over your People4ponies calendars, you will be greeted with an action photo of Puffin and Breeze - this photo was taken last year when Puffin went to join Star and Breeze on this beautiful conservation site by the sea - where they now reside as a trio.  As soon as Puffin and Breeze met they were instant best friends and Breeze took Puffin off on a tour of the site to see the highlights - they were side by side the whole way!  Such a lovely meeting and great that they are such best friends!

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