Author Archives: sallylearoyd

A New Experience

Do you know my friend Maciej? He is my vet. We all like him but we try not to invite him to the yard too much, because if he arrives, it usually means that something is wrong with one of us animals.

He pitched up yesterday with a determined look. Tawny did a lot of walking about with her bad leg and then he said ‘We’ll do the first dental’. I had been observing from a safe distance, but I was summoned. ‘Good Boy Tim’ she said, as he stuck a needle in my neck! After that it was all fine.

Tim teeth

I was vaguely aware that something metal was being put between my front teeth. I expect that is so Maciej could see my back ones. There was a cold mouth wash and then a far-away but persistent noise in my head. It was all fine really, because I had her to lean on as I got sleepier and sleepier.

Tim teeth 2

I woke up a bit later, to be told I was a good boy again – that can’t be bad can it? My stable was completely bare. All my hay had been taken out because if I had tried to chew on it while sleepy, I might have choked. I was ready for my tea a couple of hours afterwards I can tell you!

Tawny did a bit more walking up and down, then Paddy got his dental. He didn’t have the needle and he says his was a lot noisier than mine. He is a really brave pony. I try, but sometimes that doesn’t work.

Maciej says my teeth are a bit wonk and perhaps I had an injury to my head in the past. All these years later, I don’t remember being in the boot of that car now, but maybe this is another battle scar from my past!

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Missing you.

Yesterday was a sad day. Tabitha, Tawny, Bramble and I were privileged to be present at the funeral of a dear friend.

Bonni

Bonni

Bonni was a princess among dogs! She joined this yard before I did, nearly twelve years ago. She was born at the dog pound in Carmarthenshire and rehomed as a pup. Sadly, after three years, her adopter fell ill and she was discovered by an RSPCA Inspector in poor condition and after a short spell in care, she came to Cwmbern. Her carers gave all sorts of guarantees about her reliability. She didn’t chase cats or livestock – in fact, she was a paragon of virtue. And she didn’t shed hair. According to them.

For a Llanelli girl like Bonni, coming to live on a farm was like moving to Disneyland. There were so many things you could chase! Her breeding was Whippet cross Patterdale, and these mini lurchers are hard wired to chase and kill. Thankfully, her early years had not taught her a lot about killing, but her brain told her to chase it (if it moved). Cats, horses, cows – well, they all got used to her quite quickly. She meant no harm and they seemed to sense that. She loved her new surroundings, but had an independent streak, which caused much angst in the early years. Unless she had her daily walk, she would go searching for her own. Many a day was spent searching the parish for Bonni, who would arrive home with a look which said ‘Sorry, I forgot’.

Bonni

Who? Me?


Bonni had a knack of knowing what was needed. If someone was feeling blue, she would climb on their lap for a cuddle. When I first arrived, she was a frequent  visitor to my stable. I was a poor thing and easily scared, so she didn’t chase me. She would wander into the stable, touch noses and have a sort through my straw bedding. She was just one of the many friends I made at Cwmbern. It wasn’t until I was fully recovered that we discovered a mutual love of a game of tag.

Running was her favourite thing and there are fields and beaches here which suited her down to the ground. When her lead was picked up off the side, she would smile, dance and sing a little song, anticipating the excitement to come. The more company she had on a walk the better, and she came to know the visitors who had ‘walk potential’. They tended to get a special greeting when they first arrived.

 

It’s quiet on the yard today and we all keep looking around for that little black shadow. Although she was one of the smallest of our company , she surely had the biggest heart.

We shall miss her.

It’s My Birthday!

What a day I have had! It began with a special hay net (she stole the idea from a lady on the internet) and I made short work of it I can tell you.

New haynet

My Birthday Haynet

Then she made me pose in my new headcollar, which was a present from Aberystwyth University. I have friends in high places you know – well, north places anyway – and I speak to them on Twitter. The colour was NOT my choice – maybe I will be an ambassador for a blue sort of university next time.

aber-headcollar

My New Headcollar

I spent most of the day outside – which is what I like doing mostly. I am allowed out when the winter weather is mild, but not when it is freezing. At 4 pm my guests arrived! as well as the staff, Tawny and Bramble came:

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Not to mention Winston and William, the stable yard cats!

winston

Winston

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William

It was time for my cake, which I shared with Bramble and Tawny. Look at me blowing out the candle!

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I am blowing out the candle!

It was a yummy cake made of apple and carrots, so we all enjoyed it while the staff ate something called mince pies (what?):

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Mince pies

When they got around to the mulled wine, I thought I had better see what they were up to, and I tried some

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Just a Drop!

We have a party for my birthday each year. It doesn’t mark the day I was born, but the day my new life began. I am a second-chance pony and my first life was not too happy. I can’t remember a thing about it now, but she says people shouldn’t forget what happens when owners don’t understand the kind way to keep a pony like me.

If you would like to see what happened to me, please follow this link. And if you ever see a pony in poor condition, do something – please.

Escaped! With a donkey or two, some family and friends…

We all need to escape sometimes. My particular sort of escaping is usually under her arm as she opens the gate. I tear off into the field with the long grass and I see how many greedy mouthfuls of grass I can stuff down me before she catches up with me again. I have been known to trot off up the farm lane, but if I’m honest, I don’t like being too far away from my friends, so I usually wander back myself. Escaping is OK, but I don’t want to be lost and lonely.

My friends Hannah and Chico fancied escaping – well Hannah fancied it and Chico got roped in as well. I don’t know whether she was after some greener grass, but Hannah’s idea was to walk right around Wales (a seriously long way). She trained up Chico on the way (hehehe) and he had some of his own ideas as well. Sarah and she and I met up with Hannah and escaped with her for the day. She had nearly finished her walk by then and she had some very diverting tales to tell. Chico is a cool guy who doesn’t say a lot, but he had got Hannah organised by the time they reached our patch – and by now they had another donkey called Flo, in tow. Well, I should say Flo had Chico in tow – seemed he had found the woman of his dreams…

You can read about our escape with Hannah earlier in this blog: https://hooveswho.com/2013/11/03/donkey-walking/ but I have some excellent news! Hannah has written the book!

Hannah book

Hannah made quite a number of discoveries on her journey and she shares them in a very honest and fearless way.  Guess walking makes you brave, donkeys make you forget yourself and family make you proud.

Don’t take the word of a pony though – even if he has been immortalised in print. Go and buy a copy – you too can escape!

http://seasidedonkey.co.uk/

Hannah sign

No Utopia for Uthopia?

So the famous dressage horse Uthopia is to be sold at auction.

Old age is a bit of a lottery for any horse or pony. We commonly live until we are in our thirties these days and who can guarantee our welfare needs for a lifetime? At fifteen years of age, a horse like Uthopia may be older in his joints than many. Although he is immaculately cared for at his current yard, dressage is hard on the joints and his particular recipe for wellbeing might ideally involve an easier life in the future.

Who will buy him? Perish the thought that he is sold abroad to some up-and-coming competitor as a ‘schoolmaster’. Imagine the change! He will be used to travelling, but not to his new rider, a different climate and whatever demands being a schoolmaster will put on his ageing physique.

And even if he remains in this country,  with the UK’s comparatively favourable animal welfare law, his future is not assured. The above scenario could also happen here, but who will look after him when he can no longer work? Celebrity seems to have little say in the matter: Hallo Dandy, who won the Grand National, ended up as a welfare case, as did 2000 Guineas winner Brigadier Gerard.

How many owners can claim, hand on heart, that they will take responsibility for their horse throughout its life, in sickness and in health? It’s amazing how many people still imagine that there are rolling acres and a warm stable somewhere, just waiting for their horse when he is too old to be worked or wanted any more.

Though it’s unlikely I will ever meet him, I wish Uthopia the best of luck. He is offered a retirement slot where he lives now – please someone, let him enjoy it!

 

 

Storm Frank and the Woodpecker

The back field is our driest one, so it’s usually Hooligan’s during the winter. Luckily, he wasn’t in it when Storm Frank hit us with his worst last week. The old ash tree in that field is over 140 years old – not bad for an ash, we think.

The old ash tree

The old ash tree

Ash trees tend to grow in a forked shape if they are left to their own devices, and one part of the tree must have broken off in the wind.

Broken bough

Broken bough

However, it had help! You have heard me tell before of the plentiful wildlife there is on this farm. We have foxes, badgers, an otter, the odd hedgehog (though not many, thanks to the badgers) and plentiful bird life, because of all the trees. One of the most interesting of these birds is the woodpecker (lesser spotted) which makes its home in the old ash tree. We often hear it hammering away and now that the branch has fallen the inroads are plain to see.

Prospecting for a home.

Prospecting for a home.

And right in the middle of that huge broken bough is a prime example of woodpecker engineering.

The doorway.

The doorway.

The nursery.

The nursery.

We horses were fortunate not to be near that tree when it crumbled. Storm Frank has gone to terrorise someone else and we guess the woodpeckers will have to look for a new home!

It was a funny old year.

Well, 2015 has been and gone and what a strange thing happened to me! As you know, I always have my say about animal welfare. I am a great pony for the social networking and I have made a lot of new friends and found loads of old ones as well. I do not discriminate! I am a friend to elephants and cats, giraffes and border terriers, carthorses and miniature Shetland ponies, lions and tigers.

It was the lions and tigers which got me into trouble actually. A tatty circus act came to our district, using lions and tigers to do tricks. They said their act was about care and conservation but I wasn’t fooled! This was a circus and I didn’t think it was very fair, or natural for the animals to be used in that way. It’s supposed to be a free country, so I recorded my disagreement with the use of live animals in circuses on Facebook and what do you think? Facebook suspended my profile!  I am back now, but they have cramped my style because I can only be a ‘pet’ (as if!) and am not allowed to have a profile at all. So please accept my apologies if I haven’t been in touch with some of you – I miss our conversations but Facebook won’t let me do it any more.

Keep in touch in 2016 – I am still on Twitter as you know and at least we can have conversations on there. I hope you all have a good time –  a safe, warm and comfortable year, with company you love and someone to feed you good things and protect you from harm.

Happy New Year!

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