Category Archives: Horse welfare

General comment on horse welfare

Luck

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.

#wearinmyred

#wearinmyred

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’.

Good luck!

Tim’s Poem for National Poetry Day

AUTUMN WARNING

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.

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?

 

The ‘New’ Year

Another year is upon us, with all the promise of new beginnings and better things.

TT in the paddock

If you are a horse, there is a snag with all this hope stuff, and with the talk of better things, because things don’t really improve for a lot of horses and ponies out there. During 2014, there have been some very sad developments in the horse world, accompanied by an upsurge of reportage.  You see, the thing about sensationalism is that it deadens the reactions over time. Thus, the first time you saw a starved horse in the media, social or otherwise, you were appalled. The second time, you wondered to yourself ‘Is that quite as thin as that dead one I saw in the press last week?’ The next one you see looks familiar – guess you are getting used to seeing all those bones now.

And the net result? Well, that pony on the tether by the river is still alive, so he’s OK today – not as bad as that one on Facebook after all. Perhaps I won’t bother reporting him…

STOP RIGHT THERE AND THINK!

When was the last time you saw someone give that pony a drink? In the snow last night, did he have some grub and a bit of shelter? Because if he didn’t, and you saw, and you did nothing, you may have become desensitised to the suffering of needy horses and ponies. It’s not your fault, but do beware of it all the same.

If you love horses and ponies and you are thinking of making some New Year resolutions, please consider making this one.

‘Every time I see a horse, I will observe it carefully and ask myself the following questions.

Does it have food and water?

Where are its companions?

Does it have a few hours of freedom to do what it likes each day?

Is anything causing it pain or discomfort?

Where does it shelter from the cold and wet?

If I am not satisfied that its welfare needs are not being met, I promise to make a report.’

Happy New Year. Love, Tim

 

 

 

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

 

 

The Twitterherd Charter – An Owner’s Guide

It has come to my attention that one or two members of the Twitterherd have been involved in some sad infringements of our charter – indeed, an all out strike of the Twitterherd right across the western world was narrowly avoided last night, when Oscar was confronted with a reinvention manual by his owner.

These are the rules then, for owners’ guidance:

1. You must provide our every requirement in the way of sustenance. That means lots of fresh water (replenished every time we knock the bucket over or get our front feet in the water trough). Feed must sustain without being harmful, so I get hardly anything, whereas Teddy is still awaiting the patent for his self-filling haynet. Remember we are trickle feeders, so don’t give us the guts-ache by withholding food for long periods!

2. We must have a proper place to live. That means shelter from the storm, freedom to gallop about for more hours than we have to stand still and Doctor Green in regular attendance (we like trees as well, Tawny especially prefers ash ones).

3. If we get ill or hurt, you need to fix it quick! We are dependent on you for this, so never economise on your twice daily checks and a call to the vet, whenever you see a problem.

4.  We need company of our own kind, so don’t try and fob us off with sheep and goats. We groom each other, talk about our owners, the weather etc and it just doesn’t work with other species. Be understanding about putting boys with boys and girls with girls as well; there are some combinations which just don’t mix – right Glory?

N.B. A word for the donkeys. A donkey needs another donkey. They are not quite as easy-going as the rest of us equines about companions, so do the right thing and let a donkey have his own donkey friend.

We need a patch of dust (if you are Paddy) or mud (if you are Tilly or Arnie) so that we can have a good roll as well – and you need to be endlessly good-tempered about grooming us.

5. And while you are sorting out these terms and conditions, don’t forget that we need a life which is free of fear. Don’t confine us where people who don’t understand horses will scare us half to death: our instinct is to run and we can get really hurt if we are made to panic.

 

Now, a word about training techniques – you know the sort of thing: wrapping us up in plastic bags and prodding us with sticks (never try that one with a Welshie which has been shoved through a sale as a sucker!). We will try our hearts out and do our best to understand you, but be sure to differentiate which is benefiting us and which is grooming your own ego. We can all (without exception) be trained to do lots of stuff, but don’t make us look silly please – we are too good for that.

It’s all about the horses – so watch your step!