Category Archives: Hints on horse care

Helpful tips prompted by events on my yard and beyond

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!

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.

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!

Look out! It’s my birthday!

 

Today is my official birthday, when I celebrate the beginning of my life here. I have a good life now, but I did have a bit of a false start – you can look at my story here.

https://hooveswho.com/2013/12/12/its-my-birthday/

This year’s birthday will be unusual because I am not expecting any visitors. I shall have my cake as usual, at 4.30 pm, because that is the time I was collected from the side of the road. I shall also have lots of edible treats which I will share with my friends, Hooligan, Paddy, Bramble, Tawny and Tabitha (as long as she doesn’t make rude faces).

The thing is, I know I will always get one visitor, every single day. It’s usually the same one, but sometimes it’s Sarah or Joanna or Steve or the other Sarah (Happy Birthday Auntie Sarah!). They never fail to come. Even if I don’t need anything, they check that I am OK in the field – at least twice a day.

Not all ponies and horses are so fortunate. Some owners don’t bother in bad weather, or if they are late home from work. Some owners forget they have a horse when it’s the winter and sadly, many of my poor friends will starve this winter on their tethers or in wet, muddy fields.

If you are reading this, please look out! Don’t forget that all animals need to be checked twice a day and if you see a neglected one, do something! The RSPCA rescued me and you can report a poorly animal to them. But there are other organisations as well – Redwings, World Horse Welfare and the British Horse Society all have networks of caring people who can help a horse in need.

Here’s another film which explains a bit more about how I came to be here, and where she gets very serious about it all. I had fun that day, nibbling the front of the BBC lady’s cream cashmere jacket. She seemed to take it well.

 

Dear Mr Cameron

I understand there is a precedent for some people writing directly to the Prime Minister with their concerns about the country. Let me make it clear right now that I am not a spider, but a small skewbald pony.

What is more, I am a pony with a passport! Trouble is, there is no database for my passport details to be logged, so my passport does not really serve much purpose.

What with you being a town boy, perhaps I had better explain some stuff. The EU (sorry) says we ponies have to be identified because over in mainland Europe they want to eat us. And all that is a tad irrelevant here, because nobody in the UK wants to eat us because we are companion and work animals in this country. But a database is such a good idea for other reasons – and it works really well for the cows and sheep so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work for us too. It could regulate our sale and purchase and help to protect us from unscrupulous dealers (you’ll have heard of that persistent character Fly Grazing Bill, who has been in and out of your place a few times!). You see, I am a lucky pony, with a good home, but many of my poor friends are neglected and starving and action is rarely taken against their owners because there is no way of identifying them.

Anyway, sometime, when you’ve got a minute, could you sort it out please? If you want any help, just let me know.

Many thanks and good luck,

Tim

Retirement. A question.

I wonder how many ‘retired’ horses there are in the UK. We have two on this yard: Twinkle and Paddy. Twinkle’s ‘swep-up’ name is Cwmbern Llygad y Dydd. She is a Welsh Cob, by that grandest of horses, the late Nebo Daniel, and out of our dear Cwmbern Angharad, herself a diamond mare in her time. Twink has had a busy working life, doing riding and driving, teaching, carnivals and weddings, not to mention breeding three foals. She is twenty five now. She is rather stiff and has hardly any teeth left at the front, but as long as the grass is long (and it is) she copes quite well and still keeps us all in order.

Twinkle last summer.

Twinkle last summer.

Goodness only knows who Paddy’s parents were! He is a bay Conni, bought from the Emerald Isle as a youngster, and acquired for our friend Elin when she wanted to do Pony Club. He is the go-to man for all handy pony activities, and is still the first choice to ride, when we are moving horses down the road from the top field. Paddy is a bit younger than Twink. His age is something of a grey area – rather like his eyebrows and forelock these days. He is pretty fit and well and enjoys the best fields with Twink during the winter.

Paddy with Bramble

Paddy with Bramble

Twinkle enjoys being a part of things and we are lucky that there is plenty of room here. She can be kept out at long grass, with a cosy rug and booster feeds when the weather is cold. Although she adored being stabled when in full work, that regime does not fit her now. She is a real outdoor girl and can now make the most of plenty of acres. Paddy is a bit the same – they are both true natives and so their current state of retirement suits them well.

We are lucky, and so, perhaps, are these two horses. But if they became infirm and were clearly not able to enjoy their lives, we would certainly think again. Certain decisions have already been made: ever-increasing vet insurance has been discontinued because there is a limit to how much treatment we would wish them to endure. We keep a piggy-bank for their basic veterinary needs and we never stint, but box-rest for months? We think that would be cruel. Major surgery? We definitely think not! And as for months and months on medication – well, how do you explain to a horse that he MIGHT feel better in a year’s time?

This yard has kept horses for over fifty years now. Back in the day, the issues were all to do with safe foalings, careful handling of youngsters and sometimes hitting the ground at speed! With an ageing population on the yard, the emphases have altered in a subtle but definite way. We are still all about preserving life and caring for well-being, but these days we must be pragmatic about the quality of that life. We want our pensioners to wake up to see the sunrise every morning, but only if they are occupied, contented and free from suffering and boredom.

It’s all a matter of putting your horse’s welfare before your own feelings. If you are the owner of an old or infirm horse, just do me a favour and answer this question, hand on heart.

Quality or quantity?

 

Tim’s Wish on National Poetry Day

Tim browsing

 

I got myself a winter coat

It’s brown and white and warm

These autumn mornings bring a chill

Tomorrow brews a storm

 

I’m in with friends this morning

A diet needs routine

Hooli’s been out working

And Tawny’s looking mean

 

There’s apples in the tackroom

To be shared out for us

But Tawny’s always wanting more

And making quite a fuss

 

We have a happy life here

Our friends are just up there

Our fields are safe and sheltered

And we rarely have a care

 

I wish a safer winter

To all my needy friends

Who wander far and hungry

And wonder what life sends

 

Those funny little weanlings

So cute all summer long

Will shortly go to market

And move on for a song

 

They won’t forget their mothers

For many a hungry week

They don’t know how to cope alone

It’s only milk they’ll seek

 

It’s tough out on a tether

When the novelty wears off

With a collar sore against your neck

And worms that make you cough

 

I wish an end to starving

And neglect and freezing cold

For those who have no winter coat

No food, no pot of gold

 

I wish a happy ending

For all my friends out there

A sheltered field, a happy life

Some tender loving care