Tag Archives: horse welfare

Happy New Year!

It has been a year of change for us here and change is always a challenge (it has a lot of the same letters). We started off the year chasing our tails as ever, but then in March we left the RSPCA (Happy New Year to the RSPCA).

We still welcomed some poorly ponies to the yard, to help them to recover before rehoming. I help a lot with that, you know, keep them company and play and stuff to cheer them up when they are a bit blue (Happy New Year Bill, Ben, Timothy Too (get it?), Hobbits, Paula and little Hari). They have all moved on to new lives now and we hope they will have long and happy ones.

A day in the shade

The summer was hot and lasted longer than usual – guess we had more time to enjoy it. I was on my usual diet so my feet don’t hurt, but I have a regular ride and lead date with the big guys. I love ride and lead!


In the autumn, we walked with donkeys which was a new thing for me. Luckily I liked that too (Happy New Year Chico Florence and Hannah).

How are we doing, donks?

Then we got new cats for the yard (Happy New Year Winston, William and Tilly).

Now we are in winter routine and I am in the stable each night because the frost can make my feet hurt worse than over eating! I like a routine and I am quite happy to bring myself in at night, as long as someone opens the gate for me.

My new year resolution is to keep trying to improve things for my friends who are not as lucky as I am. I keep in touch with my old friends at the horse charities (Happy New Year to Nicolas at Redwings and all of his teams of helpers at the NEWC charities). The work they do is crucial and they have had a tough time in 2013.

And before I go to bed (yawning, I was up late last night) I wish the best of Happy New Years to Sally, Sarah, Joanna, Steve and Rob. They care for me and I care for them.

OK. 2014. Bring it on!

Just saying, it makes you think

My 12 days of Christmas

On the FIRST day of Christmas, she brought me for my own

A horse box to carry me home

On the SECOND day of Christmas she brought me for my own

2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the THIRD day of Christmas she brought me for my own

3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the FOURTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the FIFTH day of Chrismas she brought me for my own

A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the SIXTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

6 diagnoses; A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the SEVENTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

7 silver sachets, 6 diagnoses, A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the EIGHTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

8 strong delousers, 7 silver sachets, 6 diagnoses, A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the NINth day of Christmas she brought me for my own

9 yummy breakfasts, 8 strong delousers, 7 silver sachets, 6 diagnoses, A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the TENTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

10 friends to visit, 9 yummy breakfasts, 8 strong delousers, 7 silver sachets, 6 diagnoses, A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the ELEVENTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

11 juicy carrots, 10 friends to visit, 9 yummy breakfasts, 8 strong delousers, 7 silver sachets, 6 diagnoses, A Five Day Panacur! 4 calling vets, 3 X-rays, 2 kind words and a horse box to carry me home

On the TWELFTH day of Christmas she brought me for my own

12 rolling acres,

11 juicy carrots,

10 friends to visit,

9 yummy breakfasts,

8 strong delousers,

7 silver sachets,

6 diagnoses,

A Five Day Panacur!

4 calling vets,

3 X-rays,

2 kind words and

a horse box to carry me home!


It’s my Birthday!

Today is the day I celebrate my arrival here. It’s not my real birthday; more like my official one and this year, I want to share it with all of my friends on the social network. Since last March, I have had my own Facebook and Twitter accounts and I have so many friends! We talk to each other most days and share our thoughts. Some of my friends are other animals and some are people – it doesn’t matter, I love them all. There is the great Twitter herd of horses, the Border Terrier Posse, my people, not to mention all of the good charity officers I got to know when I was an RSPCA chap. We are all very sociable and we all care – if someone is in bother or lost, we can help with our sharing and retweeting. I am hoping that a lot of my friends will post photos of themselves today, so we can all be together for my special day.

 On this day in 2007, things were not going well for me. I had undergone a journey in a car boot, with all of my legs lashed together. None of your posey 4×4’s by the way; this was a modest saloon car and I shared the boot with a tool kit and some other rubbish. It was lucky for me that someone saw me being unloaded, and made a report to the RSPCA. I was just nibbling some grass at the side of the road when the brave Inspectors Richard and Nic came for me. She came with them, in Wilf the horse box. Once she had parked him up, I could smell other horses; I spoke but the box was empty. My people were not around, so she and the Inspectors encouraged me to go into the horse box. They had to help quite a bit because I was feeling pretty poorly, but once I was in there, I found a lovely straw bed and I could still smell horse.

 The journey was short and she went very slowly. We were soon back at this yard, where she helped me down the ramp into what is now my home. It was warm and cosy and there were little bits of yummy food. She spent a lot of time with me that night and we soon got used to each other. I slept and slept on that comfy bed, sometimes with my head on her lap – she didn’t seem to mind and it was good to have company.

 The following day, the vet came. It was all very scarey, because quite a lot of me was hurting. I had a collapsed back leg and a huge abscess on one of my fronts as well. What with that and the lice and not much condition to speak of, I was a bit of a mess. When I had some injections, I felt much better!

 There was more stuff over the next few days. There was delousing, worming (yeuch), cleaning the abscess (double yeuch) and x-rays, which luckily said that my back leg wasn’t broken. Funny, but she started to look a lot more cheerful after that. The vet thought that I must have been tethered by that leg for most of my life (I was three) and the tendon had become all slack and useless. My feet had never been trimmed either, which added to the problem. The farrier tidied them up and I could hobble a bit better.

 The vet then had a Good Idea. You know when you break your arm and they put a cast on it? When the cast comes off, the tendons have shortened up? Well, he made me a little plaster cast for my leg, which she could take off every so often to check there was nothing bad going on underneath. After a while, my leg started to behave much like a normal leg? It will never be brilliant, so I can never be a working pony, but it’s pretty good I can tell you! Clever vet!

 Tell you what. I will show you my movie – you’ll see what I mean.

 When I blow out the candle on my cake today, I shall wish that all horses and ponies will be valued and cared for like I am.

Well, a pony can dream.

My Birthday Party

On the twelfth of December each year, I have a birthday party. We don’t know when my actual birthday is, and it’s most certainly not in December! But this is the anniversary of when my better life began.

I was a rather sad and poorly thing.

I was a rather sad and poorly thing.

The idea is that we all, me and my followers, spare a thought fot those needy horses and ponies, who are not as fortunate as I am. On that day, I will invite all of my friends on Twitter and Facebook, to send a message and a photo (please, lots of photos) and at 1pm I blow out the candle on my cake (yum).

I will also post a film of my story, to show you how I recovered, against the odds, and was transformed into the talking pony you have come to know.

Don’t forget to join me now!

Tim browsing

Counting my Blessings

The UK horse welfare scene is a very sad one. It has always been sad. I myself was a rescue case. I don’t remember too much about it now, but will post the details again on my official birthday next month (don’t miss my party on Facebook and Twitter).

Ever since horses were overtaken by technology in this country, their welfare has been a matter of chance. During the twentieth century, thousands of horses were just used up, by two World Wars and by export for meat. Thankfully, all that terrible business was stopped in the 1960’s, but people kept on breeding horses and ponies as though, as the saying goes, they were going out of style. The result is a huge surplus, coupled with a decline in the necessary skills to care for them.

There are several brave charities in the UK, which do their best to react to the horrible situations they find. Every day, some poor friend is rescued from a tether, a flooded paddock or a back garden. These neglected creatures are nursed back to health and if they recover, they are sometimes lucky, as I was, and they find a permanent home with someone who cares for them.

But the new phenomenon is quite different. For the last five years, huge herds of coloured cobs have appeared in various areas of the country, usually concentrated on so-called common land or sometimes just left on farm land, with the promise of grass livery fees. These horses are kind and easy to handle. As long as they are wormed and have a reasonable amount of grazing, they are really good doers in fact. But when left like this, their maintenance issues unattended and breeding indiscriminately, their health soon deteriorates. Malnutrition and appalling diseases are the order of the day.

Malnutrition is the order of the day

Malnutrition is the order of the day

For a few years now, the charities have made massive efforts to rescue the worst, and then hoped that someone would take responsibility for the wider problem. Until last week, when countless lovely coloured cobs and ponies eventually had to be put to sleep, in their squalor, because they were too sick to live any more.

I care for those horse charity people who work on the frontline! They came for me when I was hungry and scared, when I could hardly walk any more; they mended me and made my life good again.

I am a coloured pony as you know. A few years ago, when I was rescued, every horse was individually assessed and given a chance, even though it costs thousands to café for even a little pony like me.  But today, if I was one of a herd two hundred, with my crippled back leg, I would certainly not make it.

Just saying, it makes you think

Just saying, it makes you think

 It’s a sobering thought.

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. http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/horses-rounded-Scurlage-Gower/story-19922714-detail/story.html#axzz2hRWKx56Z

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!