Tag Archives: Pettifor Trust

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,



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…


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




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!

Big day yesterday


This is my friend Bill. He came to stay in February when he wasn’t very well at all. I have been looking after him since then.  He and his friend Ben were lucky ponies: not only did the RSPCA rescue them, but some other kind friends sponsored their rehabilitation while they stayed ay my yard.

The Pettifor Trust is a Swansea charity, which raises money for needy animals. One of their many responses to the plight of horses in 2013 was to contribute towards some veterinary expenses of four ponies which had been rescued by their local group of RSPCA inspectors.

So, to begin at the beginning, Bill and his friend Ben were spotted by the good Inspector Nic, who arranged for them to be removed from their desperate starving plight – hooray for the RSPCA!

All these ponies needed to be gelded before rehoming and Bill’s operation was not straightforward. In fact, he had to go to horse hospital to have a special procedure – hooray for the Pettifor Trust!

It’s a sobering thought that if Bill had been left with his breeder, he might have died, but even if he had survived a winter’s starvation, he would have been an oddity, and would have finished his short life at the abattoir by now.

His good luck continued yesterday, when he went to his new home. Another old friend of mine (sshh, don’t tell a soul but it’s my farrier) made friends with Bill while he was here and yesterday, he fetched him home to live with his family’s driving ponies.

I wish him well.