“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

Doping Horses

PHOENIX — Found tottering alone in the desert with their ribs visible and their heads hung low, horses play a backbreaking, unappreciated role in the multibillion-dollar drug smuggling industry.

Mexican traffickers strap heavy bales of marijuana or other illegal drugs to the horses’ backs and march them north through mountain passes and across rough desert terrain. With little food and water, some collapse under their heavy loads. Others are turned loose when the contraband gets far enough into Arizona to be loaded into vehicles with more horsepower.

Thank you to Ed for sending me this New York Times piece on some real drug mules. One theory floated about Spindles Farm suggested that James Grey was involved in drug smuggling: drugs stored under the floorboard of an occupied horse box would, in theory, be disguised from the noses of sniffer dogs by the scent of horse and manure. This was never substantiated.

Post-Christmas Trivia

  • On the 30th at 2pm, BBC Radio 7 broadcasts “Cinderella’s Ponies”, a documentary about 100 Shetland ponies who live in a field off the M4 and perform in pantos around the country every Christmas.
  • Jilly Cooper in the Guardian on Sefton, the Blues and Royals’ horse gravely injured in the 1982 IRA bombing at Hyde Park barracks.
  • More on Ireland’s horse disaster in the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal was on top of the US horse-abandonment story in January 2008.
  • The classic Western, True Grit, has been re-made. Here’s a byte about Cowboy, Cimarron and Apollo, the equine stars.
  • An interesting new study compares the British equine economy and structure to that of Sweden and the Netherlands and makes suggestions for improvements. Dr Georgina Crossman found that  “models within the other two countries show that alignment with government objectives and better awareness of the socio-economic contribution of the horse lead to a more rapid progression of industry priorities.”
  • A Spindles’ Farm survivor has been re-homed with the Horse Rangers.
  • I got a voucher for a side-saddle lesson for Christmas and am totally overexcited!

Oddments

A Spindles' Farm survivor takes it easy at Redwings Horse Sanctuary

  • Sealskin will no longer be used for sporran manufacture. It’ll be ponyskin instead.
  • Anthropologie has a very pretty catalogue full of very pretty clothes and a whole heap of pretty horses.
  • A South African pony called Bertie kicked a pit bull in the head after it attacked his nads.
  • Champion racemare Sariska has been retired after deciding, once more, that she would rather not run today thank you in the Prix Vermeille in Paris.
  • I’m finding polo championship websites pretty atrocious to negotiate, but I think this means that the all-female England team came third in the European Championships in Vienna last week.
  • Competitors are arriving in Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games which kick off with reining on the 25th September. Dressage superstar and fan of “”low, round and deep“”, Anky Van Grunsven, will represent Holland in the western event.
  • Does ranty equine welfare blogger Fugly Horse of the Day practise what she preaches? Accusations in posts and comments on Fugly Horse of the Day Review suggest not. If you want to investigate, do go read through, but the “review” blog doesn’t gather up the details and put them in one place for ease of reading, so it may take you a while.
  • Horse bones are among a collection discovered at an Iron Age site in Sutton. Archaeologists think they may have been sacrifices.  Interesting, as I’m not sure from my own reading that there were many equine sacrifices in ancient Britain – horses were a scarce resource and expensive to feed – though I could be wrong.
  • The last son of Secretariat to stand at stud, Tinner’s Way, has retired.
  • AND FINALLY – I am delighted to see that the traditional practice of little girls taking ponies into houses is being upheld.