Sunday, 23 May 2010

Understanding Horses and the Devon Association of Smallholders (DASH)

Whilst I have been busily working on the new UH project, I've also had confirmation that the Devon Association of SmallHolders (DASH) are going to be offering an Understanding Horses course in this year's training schedule.

DASH members are being offered the opportunity to enrol on "A guide to horse and pony management", and a date has been set for Saturday September 11th 2010. The day is designed for anyone who is thinking of taking on a horse or pony (for conservation grazing, working on the small holding or for leisure purposes) and we will cover topics such as stable and field set-up and management; feeding; worming; hoof and health care - including how to recognise and avoid common health problems. Full details will be published in the June issue of the DASH magazine and, from June, on the DASH website

Monday, 17 May 2010

An exciting new project is on its way...

The last week or so, I've been very busily engaged in preparing to launch an exciting, new project. All will be revealed very soon, but perhaps a few clues... definitely involves ponies, including these handsome chaps and their friends,

...the beautiful Devon countryside,

...and people enjoying a wonderful family day out...

...And it should be launched in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the blog for more details...

Friday, 7 May 2010

Restricting grazing, weight management and laminitis prevention

Having been out to see two little ponies today, I must stress the importance of restricting grazing for ponies and managing their weight. Native ponies are designed for rough grazing, something that is very rarely available to them nowdays. Most of us own improved pasture land with lush, green grass and it's too good for little ponies. If unrestricted with their grazing, ponies put on weight very quickly, and all too often this results in laminitis.

Restricting grazing is the kindest thing you can do to keep your pony healthy. Ponies need a high fibre, low sugar diet and you can supplement their diet with soaked hay to ensure they have enough fibre going through their system. They should not be starved. I recommend owners use a weigh tape so they can monitor and manage the weight of their horse or pony throughout the year.

If you are in the unfortunate situation where your horse or pony is displaying signs of laminitis, you must take your horse off the grass immediately. Filling a stable with stable shavings can provide a comfortable surface for them to stand on. Soak hay thoroughly to remove sugars and there are hay replacements (designed specifically for laminitics) available in feed stores. Make sure you cut out feeding carrots and sugary snacks . Contact your vet or farrier/hoof care practitioner for advice.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Exmoor Pony Society Parade and AGM

Today I went to the Exmoor Pony Society stallion parade and AGM, held at Raleghs Cross on the eastern edge of Exmoor. It was a lovely, warm, sunny day and just perfect for spectating at the stallion parade. About 10 stallions were shown in the parade, followed by 4 youngstock who were making their debut appearances.

Photos from the Open Day

Thank you very much to Graham Willson who took photos at the open day on's a couple of photos of Faye in action with the ponies around the display area. Frodo the little white and brown (skewbald) pony quite often takes a role in our courses. Just because ponies are little, doesn't mean they are the easiest or best behaved...and Frodo is a very good pony to learn from!! Ginger's losing lots of coat and really enjoys a bit of massage...hence the nose wiggling!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

People4ponies Open Day

Sunday was a very busy day, spent helping all the other volunteers to prepare Horseford Farm for the annual people4ponies open day. There's always lots to do - putting up tents, displays, signs and stalls, but there is a great team spirit and as they say...many hands make light work! Some Understanding Horses students came to help as's great to support the charity and all the good work they do.

Bank holiday Monday was the open day itself, and it attracted lots of families who enjoyed meeting all the ponies and watching the pony handling displays. Understanding Horses had our display there to promote the courses we hold at Horseford Farm. Faye was helping around the yard with logistics, handling ponies during the displays, meeting visitors and answering their questions about the ponies

The open day visitors were very generous with their donations and purchases of plants, food, books and bric-a-brac...and all the money raised on the day will go straight into looking after and rehabilitating the ponies.