“Fly Grazing” – the New Name for Crappy Horseownership Practices

The BBC reports on a herd of forty cobs dumped on a conservation area in the Vale of Glamorgan and left to decimate the grazing and starve to death. The police cannot get involved as this is a “civil matter” and the villagers have explored every legal avenue, so the horses will probably be destroyed. Sad and pointless, though my flippant suggestion would be that the Woodland Trust tidy them up and sell ’em in the US as gypsy vanners for five-figure sums.

EDIT: At 3pm today I received a round robin email from Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk saying that they were in negotiations to rescue the ponies. The BBC has, however, reported that all the ponies were removed overnight – presumably by the owner.

Keeping Tradition “Alive”

Another depressing piece on ponies kept on common land, this time on the Gower peninsula. It’s from This is South Wales:

 

It costs as little as £2 to buy some foals — less than a pint of beer — but around £200 to put them down and dispose of them, according to the Gower Commoners Association (GCA).

This has led to more people buying ponies and horses who then find out they can’t afford vets’ bills and rising feed costs.

…Concerned residents and walkers have contacted the Post saying they have seen dead or malnourished horses and ponies on the peninsula.

John Lovett of Cockett was confronted by a dead horse last Sunday while walking along cliffs near Overton last Sunday.

“It was one of a group,” he said. “It didn’t look too old. Its eyes were gone. You could see the ribs of another one. It’s been a really harsh winter. They don’t have much to eat. I sometimes bring carrots to feed them.”

There are people who still breed these horses. Who fail to give them minimal care. Who cling to the “tradition” of keeping horses even when it makes no economic sense to raise them as a cash crop, and when the horses are dying under their eyes.
Horses don’t “need” to be kept on any common land. It’s nice to have them there, but not when they’re corpses with their eyes pecked out.

Keeping Large Numbers of Horses during a Recession

HOW NOT TO DO IT:

Some 250 horses have been dumped in Bridgend by owners who, it seems, could not afford to feed nor care for them. There are rumours that some have been killed on the roads already, and a few have died of lung infections or starvation. In the photo on the Daily Mail’s site you can see them picking soiled straw out of a muck heap. The Mail article also has details of a local charity which is trying to take in the horses, and which needs donations desperately.

 

HOW TO DO IT:

Ensure that the horses are inanimate when you take delivery of them, rather than afterwards, when  you have bought lots and discovered that you can’t feed them and they subsequently starve to death. In other words, hoard model horses.

My final outlet for childhood horse-craziness was collecting and showing Breyer model horses. You took artful photographs of your stud of fine beasts and posted them off to someone in Spokane who was running a show. A few weeks later, a big manilla envelope would come back with a typed and photocopied list of results and perhaps – perhaps! – some slips of coloured ribbon and homedrawn certificates.

You could join an association, register your horses and mail off each horse’s cumulative results at the end of each year so that they could earn points towards a Register of Merit of Legion of Merit badge. You could spend hours researching pedigrees for them and toiling over adverts for your stallions. I even branched out into racehorses a few years before I went to university (when horses real and inanimate fell by the wayside).

Anyway, a friend passed on another friend’s new blog, dedicated to the nerdy and deeply satisfying practice of researching pedigrees for model horses, and you can read about the process here, at ‘Pedigree Chum’. The internet was only just beginning to kick in when I gave up and sold my virtual racehorses, but I do find them mentioned here and there on the net still (ah, idle Googling). And of course, the models are still prancing dustily along the shelves in my bedroom in Norwich: Surafic, Torah Tanak, Mishmish II. Sorry about that, Mum and Dad!

Throwaway Ponies

More abandoned horses: after dead and dying ponies were found dumped on Bodmin Moor, police in the New Forest suspect the same thing is happening in Hampshire:

An animal abandoned near Lyndhurst had to be shot because it was in a weak condition.

It was found just two days after a dead pony had been discovered at nearby Ipley. Police believe both animals were taken to the New Forest and dumped by people determined to avoid veterinary bills or the cost of disposal.

The latest incident involved a skewbald cob cross filly thought to be about a year old.

The corpse of a starved grey pony carried by litter and dumped in Sussex.

Another German media outlet covers the issue of horse welfare in post-crisis Ireland.

Meanwhile, in other British native pony news, you need planning permission to keep a Shetland pony in the Shetland Isles.

“And a Grisly New Year…”

  • mutilated pony found in Hampshire ditch, police say “it would appear that its body has been mutilated to prevent it from being identified or its owners traced.”
  • filly with broken neck found in Buckinghamshire. “It was emaciated, had a broken neck and both hind legs were bound together and the rope tied to a gatepost. It is thought that the pony was tied to the gate while on the back of a trailer and was pulled off the vehicle and onto the road as it moved off.”
  • pony freezes to death after being trapped in a lake in Carmarthenshire.
  • Devon man caught on CCTV committing bestiality with horses over ten month period.
  • a herd of seventy stray, abandoned horses is causing chaos in Llanelli.
  • a seventeen-year-old Australian teenager has been charged with animal cruelty after dragging a Shetland pony stallion behind his car on Christmas day.

Good news? Good news there is!

  • Anapka the parasailing Russian donkey has a new home.
  • fourteen of the most vulnerable horses rescued from Spindles Farm by the Horse Trust are now thriving.
  • the wonderful Horse Rescue Fund in Norfolk is preparing for a springtime sponsored walk to raise money. They’re a great small charity who re-home most of their horses and have been campaigning against the live transport of horses for slaughter for decades. I knew a couple of their rescues – Woodstock and Orlando – at Cringleford Riding School in the eighties. One of their current residents snapped by me, below:

Bertie Bassett

Rehabilitating a Young Offender

“Zara Doidge-Walker, who runs Barnt Green Horse and Animal Rescue Centre with her mother Rayna, took second in the Blue Chip RLF Joint Power on the five-year-old Biberty Boberty Boo – one of their rescue horses.

‘We got a phone call from the police that an 18-month-old filly was running riot in Stourbridge town centre,’ explained Zara, 18. ‘No one claimed her so we took her home. She hasn’t any breeding that we know of, but she has got a crime reference number!'”

Horse and Hound, December 9th, 2010 (finally arrived).