Saturday, 19 April 2014

Jeremy's Super Jumping...And Agility Plans


Jeremy and Rowan have been busy this Easter holiday developing and practising their jumping with a triple!  Well done Jeremy and Rowan.  I'm sure that lots of you are following their blog now too!

The better weather means that our ponies have been able to start doing some agility again too so it looks like there's quite a few of us hoping to do our first starter course this month...Jeremy and Rowan, Peter and Frodo, and Victoria with one of her ponies (Silver, Baby and/or Willow).  We had to measure Frodo to see whether he would qualify for the small pony or "big" pony class.  After 2 measurings, we had the same reading of 10.2 + 3/4 of an inch...which just takes him into the "big" pony class.  I think Frodo would probably be quite pleased about that as I don't think he ever considers himself as being little!

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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Time To Roll (Take Two!)

Today was our second attempt at rolling the pony field.  Our first effort a few weeks ago did fairly well but was followed by lots of the mud had been all churned up again.  The good news is that we didn't get the tractor stuck this time! Last time we discovered where the deceptively dangerous parts are and on experience it's still too wet to roll those at the moment...but by the end of the week they might be OK.  The field looks great and now that it's flat it's much easier to manoeuvre across.    Margaret made two special visits to the farm today, inbetween her busy schedule of appointments, to help with mucking out and moving the fences...she also donated a new lightweight broom!  Jenny helped with the fences too - there's quite a lot to move and we have a technique to "walk" them to certain positions so we don't have to take everything down and then reinstate it afterwards.

Topsy's looking gorgeous

Another beautiful sunset

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Topsy's Adventures

Topsy approves of Jenny's decision not strim the grass here!
We're really enjoying the spring weather and to celebrate the arrival of the cow parsley, goose grass, dandelions (and the delicious patches of lush grass that Faye's not supposed to notice!) Topsy's been having excursions the last two days.

Margaret's been helping today so she's been enjoying time with Topsy too!

The ponies' coats are changing fast now with handfuls of hair coming out. No matter how much you brush there always seems to be more hair!  Sara gave Bobby a brush yesterday.  She was hoping to see Peter but unfortunately he couldn't come as he has a cold so we hope he feels better again soon!
Lovely weather at last!

Lovely Dan looking very handsome

Sara brushing Bobby

I'm not sure whether we did a proper update about the diatomaceous earth...but we can report that it did indeed do it's job to get rid of the dreaded lice that were immune to everything, and quickly too, thank goodness!

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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Peter and Frodo's Obstacle Practice


Peter's been doing horse agility obstacle practice's still too muddy in the field to set up jumps, or bigger obstacles so we focussed on poles and obstacles in the yard.  We set up an "L" shape out of poles to pass through, a single pole to step over with the front feet and wait for 5 seconds before backing over it, a tarpaulin to wait on and then pass across, and a hula hoop obstacle where horse and handler have to wait in each designated hoop for 5 seconds.  We did lots of waiting exercises because patience has not really been one of Frodo's best skills...but actually he was very good!  There's just snapshots in the video but hopefully we'll get a longer video made.

Peter said that he thought the most difficult obstacles were the hula hoops and the single pole.  He found that sometimes Frodo would step into the hoop and sometimes it didn't quite work...but he found that when he was more positive and decisive with his energy and thought exactly about what he needed to happen and where Frodo needed to put his feet (even by pointing into the hoop for instance) that it worked much better.  Peter did really well for his first attempt and he wants to work towards doing a starter level competition with Frodo.

Beautiful sunsets in the evenings again!

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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Bisto - Available For Loan

We have a lovely pony available for loan...I'll be adding him to the rehoming page of our website but I thought I'd give him a feature on the blog too.

Name: Bisto (Busy for short!)
Age: 11
Height: Between 11.1hh and 11.2hh
Gender: Male - Gelding
Breed: Exmoor X
Suitability: Lead Rein Pony, Horse Agility, driving/logging...Basically an all round star pony!
Health: Very good.  Never had laminitis.  Unshod and works barefoot.

Bisto has lived with Rachael since he was 2 years old and is a real part of the family.  Rachael owns Bisto and we are helping her with find him a wonderful loan home.   As you'll see from his description below, Rachael has done a fabulous job with Bisto and since she developed Multiple Sclerosis she has even trained Bisto to lead and be groomed alongside her mobility scooter.  Bisto was one of the youngsters from the p4p herd.  We will be assisting Rachael with the loan process - if there are periods where Rachael has difficulty with her health we will assist with the yearly home-checks and Bisto can come back to us if there is ever a problem.
This is what Rachael says about Bisto:  "We have had Busy since he was 2, we spent 2 years just playing and walking around the village getting used to traffic and every day life. He then went on to Dan Wilson to start and was with him for 6 weeks giving him a really good start, he has been to local shows and done the fancy dress classes, done fun rides (on lead) and beach rides, he leads from another horse, and is generally a well behaved young man (now 11) he loves groundwork and would be an excellent agility pony. He has been brought up in an Intelligent Horsemanship home and keeping to those methods would help cement any relationship with him. He is a sensitive boy and likes a leader, he doesn't like to get things wrong and if he doesn't like something he will hide behind you and purse his lips, bless him. He has never had any cause to mistrust and has a good foundation, he doesn't kick, buck or rear, he will try and nibble fingers (well he is a pony!!) Never had laminitis, always good for the farrier and vet, fine with dogs and farm machinery. I have been doing a lot of long reining with him and planned to start him driving, he also loves logging. I am having to find Busy a new home as I have M.S and things have changed dramatically for me over the last year, He hasn't been ridden for a while but I will find a little local jockey to make sure he is all with that, but I am completely confident he will be fine, he is the kind of pony you can leave for a while , tack up and go out with. He's ridden mostly in his Dually headcollar as he's such a star but has also done riding with a bridle and bit.  He leads from my scooter and whilst out long reining we have dragged cans behind him and the wheelie bin, used a motorbike and bicycles and even taken him out to watch a bike race, not a problem. I am quite limited at the amount I can do with him now and would love Busy to have more adventures.


Busy currently lives in West Devon.  If you think you can offer Bisto a home, please get in touch with us at or 07968 071179.

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Those of you with your p4p calendars will have found a rather spectacular photo for April.  Cilla captured this great shot - she says it took many attempts to get this picture.  Bobby and Woolfie used to do this play fighting every morning when they were turned out...very boyish pony behaviour!  Woolfie is now out on permanent loan and is very happy living with Helen and his horse friend Scooter.  For quite a while he wouldn't let anyone but Paul and Cilla headcollar him so although Helen was lined up as a potential fosterer, Woolfie had to overcome his fear before he could be rehomed.

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Frodo's Invitation

I don't think this photo does justice to Frodo's figure...sorry Frodo!
 He's actually rather trim...although he really is covered in that much mud again!
This week Frodo received his official invite to take part in the St John's Fair parade so Peter thought he'd start doing some more practice with Frodo.  Frodo was a bit more challenging today though - testing Peter's skill level.  Frodo had an all out refusal at first.  He said he'd rather not go anywhere and liked the idea of just standing thinking about eating the grass at the verge...but when he realised that eating grass wasn't even an option, he got into the swing of things quite quickly.  Peter even had a little run with him.

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Contraception Of Dartmoor Ponies

There's been a lot of publicity this week (again!) surrounding the contraception scheme on Dartmoor and how it is likely to fail without more support.  It's so frustrating because I don't understand why the BBC are so biased in their coverage and will not do a more widespread, balanced report on these issues.

So many of the breeders have removed or vasectomised stallions and this is one of the best ways to stop breeding (by separating mares and stallions) but there is a small core of people who refuse to remove their stallions...which then go and cover everyone else's mares resulting in hundreds and hundreds of unwanted foals.  These people effectively sabotage the efforts of the responsible breeders and they have quite clearly shown that they are more committed to setting up a permanent slaughterhouse than they are to stopping breeding on Dartmoor...but you will never hear a reporter question any of these issues.  Why can we not hear reporters asking more probing questions...Why do you keep your stallions out on the moor, chose a scheme that is likely to fail (you know that most breeders are unwilling to pay for the drugs because the ponies aren't worth anything, and it' s unpractical) and sabotage the responsible breeders causing them to have unwanted foals...surely to legitimise your plans for a slaughterhouse and permanent meat outlet????  If you really were committed to stopping breeding, wouldn't you take your stallions off the moors too???  Where's Jeremy Paxman when you need him!

Having been around these issues for a while now I think the only real answer is for all the ponies on Dartmoor to be owned by a central organisation (such as the national park) who then take responsibility for the welfare and management of the herds.  People love coming to Dartmoor to see the ponies but I think they'd love coming even more if they knew the ponies were being ethically managed - living in the park as conservation grazers keeping Dartmoor as it should be and not constantly part of one scandal or another.  There are separate commons where the stallions could be kept.  There could be a managed policy of responsible breeding only - almost with a "breed to order" type system - for the moor and some to private homes.  Then of course, they would argue how would it be funded...but I do think people would donate to a system that ensured the ponies a life on Dartmoor, where they should be - with ensured welfare and ethical management.  The ponies are supposed to be the symbol of the national park and if they are considered special enough to be the symbol of the park then they should have a more central and more ethically managed role.

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Saturday, 22 March 2014 On

Well, it's back to the pre-"tropical" weather again.  You'd never believe that we were rolling the fields earlier in the week.  It was snowing last night, hailing this afternoon, and the mud is back again...we'd never get the tractor into the field now.

The 3 older boys were playing stallion games today - particularly Bobby and Dan.  Bobby was trying to hamstring Dan (only playfighting!) which led to Dan sitting down like a dog before getting up and moving Bobby on.  There was also lots of rearing up and squealing - similar behaviour to that shown in the April calendar photo.  Every time I went out with the camera however, they just stood calmly looking at me, as though nothing had happened at all!

The Sathya Sai Sanctuary who have been such an amazing help for our live transport article have just published their Spring newsletter and they are doing such amazing work dealing with the seemingly never ending supply of abandoned animals in Southern Ireland.  It's such good news that they and Hungry Horse Outside have secured funding from LUSH to give discounted gelding operations to try and stop the level of overbreeding.  Thank goodness for Sue and Hilary and their amazing work.  Here's a couple of my favourite photos from the Sathya Sai newsletter:
Look at those donkeys go!!

Foals are soooo cute - but we really don't need any more baby animals at the moment (horses, ponies, donkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits...) at least Sue and Hilary's overbreeding scheme should help.  Would be great if there was something like that happening more widely here too...
The link for the Sathya Sai sanctuary is and you can find their newsletter here:

We also need to say thank you to the wonderful ladies at Naturally Animals  who have helped us this week and given us a discount on our purchases.  Somehow or the other we seem to have acquired some sort of "super" lice that seem to have been immune to absolutely everything we have tried to get rid of them...including the wormer...and it's very disappointing that they have reached this level of resistance!  Our trusty Neem ALWAYS used to get rid of any lice at the slightest hint of their arrival.  This year, although we have beaten them back temporarily by using all sorts of different formulas and lotions, it's only a very short set-back before they return.  Frodo did clear his by using a homeopathic remedy that Beate gave us...and Rocky seems to have mysteriously evaded them altogether (clever pony!).  To finally get rid of the "little critters" the ladies at Naturally Animals recommended a recipe using food grade diatomaceous earth, which is very intriguing stuff.  Although it's very soft and powdery for us to touch, it's fatal for insects.  The diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms and they are made of a natural substance called silica.  The silica is so sharp it can kill any bug with an exoskeleton easily, but is safe for any mammal to eat or touch (as long as it's food grade!).  DE works under the shell of an insect and punctures the body, which dehydrates the insect and then it dies. There is no possibility of a buildup of chemical tolerance because the method of killing is mechanical.  Apparently it gets rid of all sorts of unwanted insects - fleas, cockroaches for instance...I know it can be used for worming too.  So far application has been fairly we'll let you know how it goes.  Apparently lice are a big problem everywhere this year - on horse yards and on farms with cows...perhaps the lack of a cold winter gave them a boost??  The ponies are looking super healthy but I think their super thick warm coats are a very attractive environment for little critters.

On a more positive note, Carol emailed to give us an update on Basil...she says   "Basil is a real little star- I love him to bits, he seems happy with his lot and seems to be with Chester and Herbert all the time...They have been seen playing with a stick - Basil would pick it up and tear off followed by Herbert and then they would change over!! The receptionist at our doctors told me what they were up to."  They must have been such an entertainment for everyone in the doctor's surgery.  Poor Carol has been out of action from an ankle injury so we hope she feels better very soon!

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Time To Roll!

Today it was time to start rolling the fields - we've had a couple of weeks of dry weather - hardly any rain, and the ground has been drying out nicely.  In a similar way to haymaking...timing is crucial.  If you wait too long then the ground is too hard and you've missed your chance.  Margaret, Jenny and Faye had a big effort moving the electric fencing out of the way and then Ted set to work on the little tractor.  It's just the perfect size to pull the roller and it's lighter than the other tractors so doesn't mark the ground as much.

As you can see, it made quite a difference very quickly.  The area next to the yard is where all the drainage excavations were in the autumn so the ground is still all churned up and rutted...and of course there are all the pony hoof prints.

Unfortunately someone happened to mention during the tea break that it was all going perfectly so far(!)...and about 10 minutes afterwards the tractor was stuck in the mud!  There are still some very wet, boggy patches - even though the ground surface deceivingly looks out came the Massey Ferguson and the tow rope and we were soon back on track again.  We needed to be rescued again on two more occasions!  Despite the getting stuck, it was an overall success.  We just need to wait for the boggy areas to dry out a bit more before we roll those!

Frodo was a very good pony - he had to stay in the yard as we couldn't risk him with the fences having no electricity running through them.  He was quite happy with his haynet and Margaret gave him a brush - now he's extra soft and fluffy!

A big thank you to Margaret as she's been over at the farm the last couple of days to help with lots of extra jobs - including spring cleaning and helping sort out all the electric fencing...

...And of course, we must say Happy Ponyversary to Jeremy and Rowan!

Ted set Faye to work with the tractor too

A clean Frodo!

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