Category Archives: Horse welfare

General comment on horse welfare

Great News!

Today we have had some results. Hari amd her mum Paula are happy and healthy again. After their month in isolation, they had to be retested to make sure they had shaken off their infection. Last Tuesday, Veronika arrived on the yard wih her box of tricks. She stuck things up Hari’s nose and took blood from her neck; then she took blood from Paula’s neck as well. Hari was tied up by the wall, while her mum was tested. She had not been tied before, but it was OK; she liked it. Luckily she liked the rest of it as well and also liked having her feet picked up. Next Friday, the farrier will come to trim her feet, and Paula’s as well, before they set off on the next stage of their lives.


Hari has had her microchip as well. This is a very important thing! Her passport application has been been filled in and sent away. Now she will have a proper identification document for the rest of her life.

Paula was scanned and she already had a microchip. Unfortunately, her microchip was never registered by her owner or the vet who inserted it, so we will never know who owned her originally. Is that a stupid situation or what?

Farewell Hobbits

Today, the three hobbits came in for their breakfast as usual. Little did they know they had an adventure in store. Today was their last day with me, and the first of their proper lives. They have gone off to the centre to be rehomed.

When I think of how clueless they were when they first arrived, I am quite proud of them now. Bilbo is gentle and sensible and rarely panics; Frodo follows Bilbo. Merry is a free spirit and tends to lead the way. They are lovely boys all, and I hope they will find the homes they deserve.

Fare well Hobbits! My work is done.

Be good boys and have a happy life!

Be good boys and have a happy life!

As if it wasn’t

complicated enough, Merry just had to be different! We booked him into Cotts Farm Equine hospital and set off – having starved him for 36 hours (I know I have told you that before, but honestly, it’s a bit extreme!). He was pretty scared at hospital, what with having to go there on his own and everything. But they are very understanding at Cotts and he soon felt at home. When it was time to collect him, Richard had a long face and said ‘I’m afraid it’s not straightforward’. Although the scan looked as though there was a small, shadowy thing lurking up towards Merry’s tummy region, it turned out not to be the second testicle. Richard said we would have to do blood tests in a few days to see whether he was a gelding or not, so we took him home again. He recovered really well from his operation and, thank goodness, the blood tests showed he was a gelding. It seems that someone (and that someone was clearly not a vet) had had a go at Merry before – poor little man!

Anyway, all’s well that ends well, as someone once said (perhaps it was me) and Merry is settling into his new life as a gelding. And although he was scared that day, he is a much more confident pony now.

Merry the gelding

This year, all of the colts here have been the lucky recipients of a grant from the Pettifor Trust. It has provided them with the veterinary care that they need to put them on a safe path to a new life. The Pettifor Trust is based in Swansea and was generous in its help to these ‘Swansea Jacks’. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi!

It’s complicated

being a boy. This year,we have had a bit of a glut of these young lads on the yard. They get neglected because nobody wants to get them gelded and feed them until they are three. So sometimes they end up struggling and starving. Once they are healthy, it’s no problem getting them fat – you rarely have to teach a hungry pony how to eat! But if a young boy is to find a good, settled home, he needs to be a gelding.

We have a great vet whose name starts with V. She sorts us all out and helps us when we are sick. We have a ‘hospital wing’ at the yard where she does the gelding operations. It’s just a clean corner of a well-lit shed, with rubber matting and a thick bed, where she can work in fairly clean and controlled conditions. We organised a day and booked for the Hobbits to be done – I make myself scarce to be honest. I was done years ago but the thought still makes me wince!

Bilbo was up first, catheter in neck, drugs all injected in; Bilbo still awake. Bit more drugs, Bilbo still awake! Tiny bit more drugs (uh oh, can’t have any more) and Bilbo lay down. All is settled, everything washed and ready for the unkindest cut, when surprise! Bilbo gets up again! Back to the drawing board for him then.


We booked for V to come another day. She sedated Bilbo with some different stuff and he was was done while he stood up. Although he looked awake, he didn’t seem to know a thing about it – amazing!

Next up is Frodo, who goes to sleep as planned, All is done and dusted and he’s back on his feet before we know it. He’s a bit sleepy, but V has given him lovely pain relief so he is not distressed. After the rest of the day, he is able to go out into a lovely clean field with Bilbo – to sleep it off.


Merry was a different story altogether. He got examined (which he rather enjoyed) and V said he would have to go to hospital. That turned out to be quite an adventure!

Is this a charity issue?

My brave friends in the RSPCA inspectorate were assisted this week by representatives from several horse charities, as they examined a huge herd of horses in South Wales. The owner of these horses has obviously taken no responsibilty for them in ages and now it falls to the great charities who make up the National Equine Welfare Council, to help if they can.

It’s not a new situation; we have all seen this news before. The difference is the numbers involved – and the time of year. These poor creatures are ailing and dying on a warm October day – what hope for them and their kind when the cold weather begins to bite?

And if the charities are forced to use their resources now, what hope for all those other ponies and horses, which fall upon hard times – as I did – during the winter?

It’s ironic to me that this is happening in the same week as the Horse of the Year Show. Over in Birmingham, there are the top flight, swanky boys, winning prizes worth a fortune – and here in Wales these poor things are dropping dead for want (probably) of a worm dose, some supplementary feed and a bit of basic management.

These horses are not worth a great deal – there are so many coloured cobs about that their owner probably doesn’t care whether they live or die.

How can the horse industry allow this to happen?

Isolation for Hari

Well, Veronika was not long getting back to us with the result of Hari’s snot swab. It wasn’t strangles (hooray) but another strep infection which is a bit messy, but shouldn’t make her too ill. I am very pleased about this. I have not been allowed to meet her yet, but I think we shall be friends.

Happy Hari

She does have to be isolated from all of us for the next 28 days (!), but, the lucky girl, she happens to be with her Mum in a field miles from any of us anyway! So she gets to stay there, eating the grass and enjoying the autumn sunshine until Veronika (my vet) says she is not infectious any more.


The ‘S’ word

Hari the foal has a cough and a very snotty nose. It started on Saturday but fortunately, she is not poorly, in fact she is very lively and active. Like lots of babies, she is curious and playful. She is with her mum in a field by the lane and she enjoys chasing the quad bike along the fence. She can’t be with the rest of us at the moment because of the cough – and the snot.

First job yesterday was to call the vet. Hari and mum didn’t come in from the field for the vet’s visit – it’s called quarantine, when you are kept away from the other horses for health reasons. When the vet came, she checked Hari over and then took swabs from her nose to be tested for a couple of things. Because Hari has no temperature and she is in a sheltered field, she needs no treatment. But we must wait a week to see what the problem might be.

It could be a simple cold, or a lung infection, or equine influenza.

But by the way, ‘S’ is for Strangles. Watch this space.


Busy week

It’s been a bit hectic this week. There have been lots of changes of field and stable and I think everyone has landed now. Hooligan is back with Tawny, ready to start work again and Tabitha and Twinkle are in a flattish paddock behind the yard. Tabitha is still taking it easy while her sidebone settles. On Monday, Merry was brought in to the stable beside mine and he didn’t have anything to eat until Thursday – 36 hours with no grub! I was sympathetic – I would not have been happy with that arrangement. Anyway, on Thursday the trailer was hitched up, I got extremely excited, because the trailer sometimes takes me for a day out, to see my public, but no. This time Merry was loaded up – and he was very good about it too. Then he went off to Cotts Farm Equine hospital to have his operation. Apparently it couldn’t be done at home like the others, because of certain stuff (it makes my eyes water thinking about it), so he had to go and have a scan first. He got back about 4 pm and he was a bit sleepy, but eating as though his life depended on it. He had to starve in case the anaesthetic gave him a guts ache – poor little man. Anyway, by evening he was pretty lively again and Friday afternoon he went out with his mates again. He has to have a blood test in ten days to make sure it’s all OK. In the meantime he is eating up his meds which he has in a (large) feed each day. Now it’s me who is feeling hungry!Merry


What price competition success?

How sad to see pictures on facebook of a horse ridden at Burghley Horse Trials in a hackamore which was fitted so low that it seemed to be restricting his nostrils. Was this a groom’s mistake or a deliberate misuse of equipment? Either way, it was allowed to compete. Where were the rigorous checks which we observed at the Olympics?

Now today, Horse and Hound leads with a story about drugs found in a leading endurance yard. Hats off to the magazine for persisting in their reports on health and welfare!

This is top level cometition we are talking about here, so ignorance of best practice (or the rules) can be no excuse. There has been much talk of the Olympic legacy and the fact that more riders are inspired to compete than ever before. So isn’t it the duty of those at the high end of equestrian sport, to set a good example?

I was made to suffer once, and as a result, I can’t work. I was tethered by my back leg and now that leg doesn’t work well enough for me to be ridden or driven. I was never quite an Olympic prospect (except in my own head of course), but the law treats me just the same as it does a four star horse.

I hope that horse with the sore nose will be OK and his owner will not try that method again. And I hope those brave endurance horses will be OK too – it’s not their fault that we have set them times they can’t achieve.

Cruelty to horses is cruelty to horses. You people have a duty to treat us right – especially when we are your ticket to success!

Autumn leaves

Seems that lovely hot weather has gone away for good. I must get my woollies on ready for the cold and wet. My friend Hooligan has started to get fluffy, but he’s no good at real fur – has to have a rug when it gets to proper winter.Image

He is doing his best though – came in covered with mud this morning, which, to be fair, does help as an extra layer. I am a great believer in mud myself.

The thing about autumn is that it brings its own set of challenges. For me, it can be just as tricky as the Spring, because the grass keeps doing a bit of a growth spurt after a warmish day. So I am standing in the stable a lot at the moment, and I have my lovely heart bar shoes back on.


They keep me sound and make is possible for me to get more exercise. I feel for all laminitics everywhere and I hope you are getting the care you need.