Tag Archives: Redwings

Look out! It’s my birthday!

 

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.

https://hooveswho.com/2013/12/12/its-my-birthday/

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.

 

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

 

 

 

Rehoming

It’s not surprising that the horse charities are having a big rehoming push this summer. There are so many horses and ponies being bred in the UK at the moment, that there is a huge surplus. The industry does not want to take any responsibility for that surplus, so it falls upon the charities to sort out the casualties.

There is a lot of talk about changes in the law and banning fly-grazing, but how much does legislation matter to the average horse owner? My owner doesn’t look after me because there is a law; she does it because she wants to, she was brought up to and she likes me.

Rescue horses are ten a penny. Everyone wants to say they have rescued their horse – but actually most people buy them. The process of rehoming is quite different: the horse may eventually be yours to keep, but you must agree to a fair contract with the organisation which is rehoming that horse.

Let me warn you right here, that you should not let your heart rule your head. If you go to a centre where the horses look poor and the fields are overcrowded, take note and consult the NEWC. Unless the centre insists on a pre-adoption visit to assess the suitability of your premises, be wary. And if someone offers to drop off your ‘rescue’ horse unseen, be afraid, be very afraid. There are dealers and breeders out there who are cynically jumping on to the rehoming bandwagon in order to pass on unfit animals.

Are you a horse owner, or are you looking for a horse at the moment? Because whatever your situation, as long as you can afford to keep a horse, you should look at rehoming a horse from a reputable charity before you go to a sale or reply to an advert. Consider carefully what type of horse will suit your needs as well as making sure you can meet the needs of that horse as well. Never forget that it’s 24/7, 365 days a year and the responsibility is YOURS.

The current ‘push’ is by the RSPCA, a charity which transfers ownership of each horse to its adopter after a short probationary period. If you can’t guarantee to keep a horse forever, consider a foster horse – there is nothing more rewarding than watching a youngster grow and learn. Thanks to the fashion for coloured cobs, and a few very unscrupulous breeders, the RSPCA has lots of sensible hairy babies looking for homes. They are patient, forgiving and repay every bit of attention you give them, with their loyalty and friendship.

Boys in the stream

Although the RSPCA rescued me, so I owe them my life, this scheme is not for everyone. If you can’t commit to a lifetime’s ownership, find a loan scheme! The NEWC charities all work together when horses are rescued and a loan horse from World Horse Welfare, Redwings or Bransby might be the right thing for your individual situation and helps another horse along in life.

 

 

30 years from now

Where will this little foal be?

I am only a day old.

I am only a day old.

She was born just yesterday, one of thousands of foals to be produced in the UK this year. The question is, what does the future hold for her?

There are a million reasons why people choose to breed from their mare. Some genuinely need a replacement horse for themselves and would like their tried and tested mare replicated as near as can be. Some are locked into a programme of breeding to manage the health of their hill or moorland ponies. Some want to breed the fastest racehorse known to man and others want to win, win and win. And then there are those who cover the mare because she is unsound, either in temperament, or soundness, or both – and they just don’t know what to do with her.

Add to that list a small number of unscrupulous dealers who have flooded the market with middle-sized, good tempered coloured vanners and there you have it – a surplus of thousands!

During the last few months, the horse charities have continued to wring their hands and fail to deal with the hundreds of starving horses which herald each Spring of the 21st century. It’s not their fault; they have done all they can, but it is not enough. Still horses are bred by the thousand, with no trade to support the level of production. There has been a high-profile suggestion of late that the UK should take to eating horse meat. Get real! If the British liked eating horse meat they’d be doing it already and if there were a viable export trade, they would be supplying it with chilled horse meat. Eating horses is simply not the answer.

The issue lies fairly and squarely at the door of the UK horse industry. It is time to face up to your responsibilities and stop adding to the surplus. How many times do we hear excuses about passing on older horses – you can’t afford the vet bills, you need a younger horse, he’s stopped winning. Did you consider his whole life when you covered that mare? Who is supposed to safeguard his future when you don’t want him any more?

In this week’s Horse and Hound, an article covered the breeding of a 1000 Guineas winner – and we are talking the best of the best here. A forebear ‘was exported to India’ – I wonder how her life ended, in a country whose welfare standards are pretty notional unless you are a cow.

This little foal may be your pride and joy today, but who knows where will she go during the course of her life?  Think twice before covering that mare and give me a follow this May if you feel as strongly as I do about this. You see, I was an unwanted foal and I went through a lot before I got lucky.

If you can’t feed it don’t breed it.

The ‘L’ word

It’s here again, it’s Spring.

Some of you will know that I am just beginning my Easter holidays in the top field.

Easter hols

This is the first Easter holiday I have had for two years, because I had a bout of laminitis the year before last. It only hurt for a short while, but I had to stay in the stable for AGES while my hooves grew out ans then a very little bit of turnout got included in my day for quite a while. I always had company near me and toys, but it was a bit of a long haul. At last, the other day, when the farrier was changing my made-to-measure shoes, he said my feet were back to normal. Hooray!

The snag is, now that I have had laminitis, I will always be in danger of it happening again. I am a small chap, designed by nature to walk miles for every mouthful, but this farm is used to feeding cattle and sheep – it doesn’t know about the walking for miles thing – so my diet has to be restricted. Actually, everyone’s diet has to be watched here, because we are all fatties – even Hooligan who is 16hh with the longest legs in the world! The only exception is Twinkle, who is elderly and has a few dental issues, so she is allowed to eat the long grass.

So here I am, with Bramble and Paddy, on a diet, but having some freedom and a great view of the sea. She says I might be here for a week, or a month – depending on the weekly weigh-tape.

Out with Bramble and Paddy

 

Be my Valentine

Roses are red

Violets are blue

You care for me

And I will love you

 

The water are rising

My mum has long gone

I’m piebald and skinny

And I’m nearly one

 

My needs are quite simple

They number just five

If you could arrange them

I could stay alive

 

But I am so hungry

I’ll just lie down here

I can’t think just now

For the cold and the fear

 

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Care for me please

And I will love you

Dreamyard on Twitter

The weather is so dire at the moment, that a lot of horses and their owners are wishing wishing wishing for better living conditions and an end to the storms. I have been asking my friends in the ‘twitter herd’ for their wish lists over the festive season and their requests have given me quite a challenge!

There is no Harry Potter movie this Christmas, so here’s a test for all horse keepers, film makers, technological genii and wizards.

Some of our wishes are simple – rolling acres of old turf, free draining with no rye grass: great big gorse hedges for shelter and friends to share our space. There will, of course, be sufficient so that land can be rotated and rested, not to mention some hill land for the Shetlands and fatties to enjoy. The donkeys from Birmingham and the rehab boys at RSPCA Felledge have also requested a fine view.

imag0097.jpg

And it must only rain at night.

There will be various types of building including field shelters for the free spirits, barns for the community types and individual stables for the poorly and pregnant.

Ublah the Trakehner is a wise old bird and her list was very long! She asked for grills between stables so that nobody is isolated and off-road riding for the enjoyment of all.

What a brilliant track!

Arnie (The Fat Pony) was not alone in his request for a solarium. And Ruth included a photo of exactly the thing we have in mind.

Heat lamps

Tilly wants a mud patch, bless. I am sure she will share.

My old friends Oscar and Teddy share my preoccupation with food. This is where the magic and technology come into play. I think we can achieve Teddy’s automatic haynet filler with a coded microchip sewn into his rug and some awkward mechanical dangly things. Oscar’s grassy stable floor which regrows after it has been nibbled is quite another matter. To be honest, I think their worries will all be sorted by the daily work and turnout – in fact I would suggest they are turned out together.

After my friend Valentine’s warning this morning, all turnout rugs will be fitted with alarms. In the event of a thief attempting to remove a rug, huge floodlights will switch on and the deafening sound of galloping hooves will fill the air, alerting the staff to the misdemeanor.

The automatic drinkers and horse treat vending machines could also be worked with the clever microchips, but do bear in mind that the yard will have STAFF. They will never sleep and will be at our beck and call 24/7. I expect there will have to be some concessions to their comfort as well – hot showers and a Costa machine maybe and chocolate biscuits for when they are extra good.

The yard is right next to a beach and future plans include a wave powered hydro-electric system to run the heat lamps (no Arnie, we can’t put the Shetlands on a treadmill). I can confirm that Kauto Star, our most famous inmate, will have a flatscreen in his stable, so that he can relive his favourite triumphs.

Kauto Star

Future developments will include a true replica of Cheltenham Racecourse as well, so that Kauto can pose for the cameras whenever he likes. Provision of iPads for the donkeys is dependent on sponsorship from Apple apparently. The rest of us will be quite content with the actual apples, thank you.

I hope you approve of the interim plans for the Twitter yard. My own wish is that its doors will be forever open, if any horse, pony or donkey needs somewhere to go.

And once a year, just for a week, proper snow!

cropped-tim-in-the-snow-009.jpg

 

 


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!

Tim

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