It is with a heavy heart that I deputise for Tiny Tim, my friend and companion for the last 11 years, who has now departed this life.
Tim was a big horse in a little body. For a full up 9.3hh his heart, courage and charisma were huge. Many ponies would not have survived the early abuse he suffered, but Tim came through and has been a champion of all needy animals since. He enjoyed life and was always up for a day out, doing fundraisers, going to shows and patiently standing still while those with special needs stroked and cuddled him. To those of us who knew him well, the ‘standing still’ part was very awesome!
For the last year or so, in failing health, he has been in my thoughts more or less constantly. And when not in mine, he was in Sarah’s. Our yard routine was plotted around him with military precision, but spending longer and longer on box rest was not the thing for a pony like Tim. Frequent visits from Joanna (with lettuce – it’s low in sugar) and Rob (with Reiki) made his days more bearable.
Fancifully, I’d like to think of him over that rainbow bridge, playing tag with Bonni, rolling in a snow drift (his favourite thing), eyeing up the women and of course, wearin’ his red on special rugby days.
But wherever you might be, my dear Tim, thank you. It’s been a real privilege.
These days, I tend to lead a quiet life as you know. I have, I suppose, largely retired as a public figure and enjoy my peace and quiet here on the yard. Lately, though, it seems I am in demand!
My Auntie Jane in the North sometimes asks me to send her some tail hair. I find this quite a personal request really – we have never met – but she says Auntie Jane is a good egg and does clever things, so I spare her some tail now and again. She uses it to do pottery. There is a technique called Raku and they use tail hair like mine to make patterns. Last year, Auntie Jane gave her a pot which had been decorated using my hair. Imagine! *whispers* There is a rumour that it may be awarded a place in the new kitchen as well.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, she asked for some hair again but here’s the thing: I need my tail! There are a lot of flies around at the moment, it’s hot, and our tails are really useful for swishing. And I also have another call on my valuable time -I am going to a show, so best tails are needed!
My local show is Cardigan County https://cardigancountyshow.org.uk/. I have been there before, in the coloured pony class, but this year there are special classes for Rescue Horses and Ponies like me! There are two classes, one where we are shown in-hand and another where the ridden boys strut their stuff. The classes are sponsored by my good friends at RSPCA Ceredigion. They will be judged equally on history, condition and turnout, and conformation. Everyone has to submit a little story with their entry and then turn up for judging on the day. I am very excited because I love a day out!
As you know, I have a companion now. His name is William Bach.
He is not a rescue pony but there are two classes which he can go in, so he will be coming with me. I will have to give him a few pointers on how to behave, trot nicely in-hand and how to leave me for short periods, but I am confident that we will have a great party. Come and join us if you can!
You see what I mean about being in demand?
It’s my birthday. Well, probably not my for real birthday, but the anniversary of when I came here, exactly ten years ago. I was a poor thing then, as you know, and you can see my transformation if you look back at my blog: https://youtu.be/8W7ExbcLmx0
I have been well and happy for so long now, I think I am just an ordinary guy.
This year has been a bit tricky though. My laminitis has been giving me some bother and I need to chop and change my paddocks and stables, so that I can stay comfortable. The other horses are bigger than I am
and they need more grub, so the long and the short of it is, I have been spending a lot of time on my own. Luckily, I enjoy human company, so it’s not too much of a bind.
Yesterday, she hitched the trailer up and I wondered whether I was going to have a day out. I do enjoy a day out. But no, she went off this morning with an empty trailer and arrived home with a pony. Now, she used to do a lot of this, so we don’t take much notice, but it turned out this time was special. She brought William home with her and he is going to be MY FRIEND.
We spent a bit of time gurning through the gate at one another, then we were allowed to play.
William is only young, but he shows promise, so I have let him share my birthday cake.
(I am also changing my name to Big Tim).
This could be my best birthday ever!
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.
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.
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:
Not to mention Winston and William, the stable yard cats!
It was time for my cake, which I shared with Bramble and Tawny. Look at me 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?):
When they got around to the mulled wine, I thought I had better see what they were up to, and I tried some
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Luck can be good or bad and some say you make your own. As the recipient of some extremely good luck once, I doubt that statement.
But luck in sport – how does that work? We are great rugby supporters in this household and we have been watching the World Cup unfold. For the duration (being a Welshman) I wear my red headcollar and when I tweet in support of the brave lads, I always use the hash tag.
Wales fought a hard campaign and were heroes throughout. What is more, they were well-behaved heroes and were not always accorded the decisions they deserved. Luck played its part in their last match against Australia. It seemed as though they would prevail and just before half-time, a drop goal seemed to say that luck was on their side. I am honoured that my tweet featured on the roof of the O2 at that point.
Just imagine – my name in lights with the best outside-half in the world. I thought I would burst with pride!
The rest is a sad tale of bad luck and disappointment. For the ‘home’ teams, well. The luck of the Irish certainly didn’t make it to Cardiff and Scotland were truly robbed by a ref who should have gone to Specsavers.
Keep up the good work you brave British rugby players. Remember what Mr Gatland said: It’s not a matter of ‘if ‘a home side beats the All Blacks, it’s ‘when’.
I spotted it, I spotted it!
It wriggled on the ground
A worm, all white and gleaming
Amongst the poo was found.
A quick look at the worming plan
And off I sent the staff
Just get the right thing, one tube each
And don’t do this by half.
Well there’s Equi- this and Equa-that
The choice is something scary
And you could be sold the wrong thing
So it pays you to be wary.
The lady can advise us here
We’re lucky that we have her
To help us understand the terms:
The veterinary palaver!
To test the poo and test the spit
The cost works out amazing!
But we are very lucky here
To have rotated grazing.
So if you’re short of grazing
And you have a lot of gees
It’s time to get the chequebook out
And sort the worming fees.
And if your horse should have the luck
To be your only love
Go get a kit and test his spit
And poo (and use a glove).
Take care of us this autumn mild
When wriggly worms abound.
You know it’s what you need to do,
To keep us safe and sound.