Looking After Horses

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Lonely Pony Rescue

pony - rufus

This little pony is in a dreadful condition.   We’ve recently rescued him and will try to improve his well-being.   Yes, he has been sadly neglected, but no, it isn’t a cruelty case.   His owner has had dementia for some years and it’s worsened, she is now in hospital.  She loves horses and all animals but hasn’t been able to care for them.   Sally, the little Westie we took in, is from the same home and is now safe with us and on the road to recovery.

Rufus may not look too bad at first sight.  He has many serious health problems though and it will be a long time before recovers.   One of the most distressing aspects is that he’s lived on his own in a back garden for many years – he’s 18 years old now.   When we were alerted to his plight he’d been shut in a stable for a long time.  He couldn’t see out and was knee deep in muck.   It seems that his owner, who is ill, had not allowed anyone to help her look after him or give him the treatment he so badly needed.   Perhaps she didn’t want him to go outside because she feared he would be taken away from her if anyone saw his terrible condition.

So, what’s wrong with him?   He is very thin except for a huge ‘pot’ belly.   Looks as though he is full of worms.   (we wormed his straight away).   He can’t walk properly – his feet are deformed, the front hooves are like ‘slippers’, the hind hooves are even worse, he walks on the tip of his hooves and doesn’t seem able to put the sole of his feet to the ground.   These problems are caused in part because he hasn’t been allowed out to get any exdercise.    We have a very good farrier and our first call was to him, then it’s x-rays of his hooves to see what can be done.

Is that it?   No, sadly it isn’t.   Rufus is a stallion, he was never gelded as a youngster.   So, does this matter?   Yes and no.   He has an undescended testicle, probably this is why the operation to geld him never took place.   It can be done but it is major surgery, dangerous and is very expensive.

Because he is old and frail and unwell, he couldn’t be gelded at this late stage.   The problem is that stallions, even little ones like Rufus, are difficult with other ponies.   They want to get the girls in foal and fight with the boys.   The idea of eventually turning him out in the fields with the herd is unlikely to happen.  Perhaps we can find him a single pony friend he will get along with – ponies are herd animals and we don’t like the idea of a solitary life for him.  But we’re a long way off that – one step at a time and we have to tackle the other problems first.

pony - rufus hooves‘Slipper’ feet.

ponies - rufus 5

ponies - rufus on grassFreedom, fresh air and grass – that is so good.


rufus - hooves 3

He’s walking on the front of his hooves.

Horse and pony rescue and retirement

ponies - sundance 2Horses and ponies are under pressure.  We get calls every week telling us about problems and asking us to help.  We’ve taken two more ponies in recently, one small, the other medium sized.   The main difficulty people find is being able to afford to keep their pony.  Unless you have your own land you have to pay for livery which is rent for a stable and buying in of feed.   Sometimes we go out to see ponies who are in a terrible condition, it might be lack of knowledge and ignorance of correct horse care.  Horses and ponies need a lot of room to walk around and have natural exercise.  Keeping them in a tiny ‘play-pen’ paddock will only lead to long term problems.

If you have a pony you can’t look after or have an old-stager who needs a comforable retirement please get in touch, we’ll try to help if we can.  A donation is required, which helps with the care of our many horses.

New pony comes to stay

ponies - holly 2Holly is a elderly pony whose owners could no longer care for her, her place at livery had been lost and there was nowhere for her to go.  They did not want to have her put to sleep but it was rapidly becoming their only option.  When we heard about her plight we offered her a place in the sanctuary.   We never put any healthy pony to sleep and although Holly is an old lady, she is still fit and well and enjoying life.  Holly had been used to living with other ponies and we hoped she would fit in well with one of our small pony herds.

ponies - holly

Holly is approximately 11.hands high and is dark brown in colour.   We were told she could sometimes be a bit grumpy with people but was always friendly with other ponies.   However, she was on her best behaviour when she arrived and showed no sign of a temperamental nature.   We gave her a feed and it looked as though she was enjoying all the attention.

ponies - holly 3

She loves food and is well behaved while she is having her dinner.   We put her in a large loose box next to some of the other ponies, she can see them but they are not together.  They can have a gossip over the stable wall and that way they’ll get to know one another.When we turn them all out together we’ll see how they are going to get along.  Ponies are herd animals and ours are a tight knit community.   How will they treat a newcomer?   Is Holly going to bully them?  She is quite a bit bigger than them and size counts in the pony world.  Introducing a newcomer isn’t easy, we’ll take it slowly.

Mini ponies come back home

ponies - come home

Our mini ponies have been enjoying winter grazing away from home over the past few months – there’s nothing better for them than fresh grass!   Now it’s time for them to come home and  they seem very pleased to be back.  We have to hire a horse box as we don’t have one in the sanctuary – it would be wonderful to have horse transport of our own so it’s on our ‘wish list’.

We’ve not brought them all just four good friends – Ruby and Daydream, Grace and little Pixie.   He may be only 26″ but here he is first off and out there in front.ponies - come home 3Daydream had a good look round as soon as her hooves hit the tarmac, they all knew where they were within seconds.  

ponies - come home 4Off they go to the stables, no persuasion needed, they know the way.

ponies - come home 5The ponies have been together in the sanctuary since they were first rescued many years ago.  They range from eight to 15 years now.  Ruby is the deep chestnut one and the oldest.  Daydream is younger and a very pretty red and white.  Grace is bright chestnut with a flaxen mane and Pixie is the dark brown boy pony who is tiny, although he thinks he’s a big fella racehorse sometimes!

ponies - come home 6Is there a feed waiting?   We’ll be fetching some of the other ponies back in the Spring.

ponies - come home 7It’s so good to be home …..

If you’d like to adopt one of the ponies please get in touch.  Let us know which one – a donation helps us to keep them in clover and we’ll send you a photo, ‘your’ pony’s story and an adoption certificate.   Sponsors can come and meet ‘their’ mini friend on our monthly pony days – first Sunday in every month between 12.0noon and 2.0pm.

Dmations by paypal, donate button on site or cheque payable to Pet Samaritans please.


Pony feet trimming

ponies-blacksmith 2

It’s time for a hoof pedicure and Sundance doesn’t mind, he lets the blacksmith pick his feet up and trim the overgrown hoof away.   If the ponies were roaming miles over different kinds of  ground they would wear their feet down naturally.  When they are in stables and grass fields, they need a bit of help.

The blacksmith comes approximately every eight weeks.   First of all he cuts the hoof off with a special farrier’s knife and then he rasps the hoof into a smooth round shape.   The important thing is to have the feet level, otherwise the pony would walk unevenly and that would put a strain on the legs and lead to lameness.

At the same time he checks for any signs of thrush, which is a condition where the foot goes soggy and becomes infected.   He’ll also check for bruises and corns (yes ponies get them just like us!) and also have a look at the coronet, which is the sensitive band of hoof where the hair growth ends.  Ponies can also get cracks and splits which potentially cause a lot of trouble.   These are often caused by poor nutrition -  again like our own nails when they become brittle.

All is well with our little gang, the big horses will be done next time he comes.   It’s essential to keep ponies feet in good condition – no foot, no horse as they old saying goes.

Horse dentist checks on Japonica

horses - japonica teeth

All the horses in the sanctuary have regular check ups with the Equine Dentist and last week it was Japonica’s turn.   She is our oldest pony and it’s difficult to keep weight on her, she can’t eat hard food or hay and has to have a special diet.

The dentist puts a special bridge on so that the horse’s mouth can be kept open while she rasps down any sharp edges on the teeth.   There were several of these points on Japonica’s teeth, probably because she does not eat any hard food.   Even though her teeth were rasped it was not the end of Japonica’s problems.  As she has aged her jaw has altered and her teeth have become misaligned, so that is partly why she cannot chew her food as well as she ought.

Regular check ups will help, otherwise, there is nothing more that can be done unfortunately.  It’s keep on with the mashes and soft diet.  Japonica, at 37 years, is still fit and well and sound in her legs.   If only she’d looked after her teeth!

horses - japonica teeth 2

Japonica still has all her front teeth – her gums have receded with age though.   This is where the saying ‘long in the tooth’ comes from!

Japonica is a lovely, sweet natured pony – if you’d like to know more about her why not ‘adopt’ her – it costs only £12.00 per year and helps with her care.  We’ll send you an adoption pack, photographs, her story and updates.  Makes a great gift!

To adopt Japonica just send us your name and address (or name of recipient if for a gift).  We’ll send out an Adoption Certificate, photograph ready to frame and all about this lovely pony.   Pay by cheque, donation online or paypal.   Many thanks.

thank you horse

Our old pony wraps up warm






Japonica is our oldest pony and at 37 this year she is still in good health.   She likes to go out for a saunter round every day, no matter what the weather and exercise is good for her.   Keeping wrapped up warm is important though as old ponies lose body heat very quickly.  This is a great rug (thanks to Cadman Animal Feeds who so kindly donated it for her) and covers just about every bit of her.    Japonica is streamlined already and we have to feed her four times a day to keep her weight on.   The problem is that she doesn’t have many (any!) teeth.   This is what most old animals die from – when their teeth go – that’s it.   Unless they have someone to feed them soft and very nutritious food as we do with this lovely old girl.   Japonica has a sweet nature and is polite and gentle – she can still go a good gallop round the field when she wants to though.

Daydream’s magnificent mane

ponies - daydream 12

Daydream has wintered well and the cold weather has encouraged her to grow a really thick long mane.   We never cut the ponies manes and like to see them flowing and helping to keep them warm.   They are natural and beautiful – no show pony tricks for our little mares!   Daydream does like to have her mane and tail brushed, it’s not hard to keep free of tangles.   It’s fashionable when showing horses to ‘pull’ their tails and manes – this is just what it sounds like – a few hairs at a time are literally yanked out.  It must be quite painful.  Cutting manes and tails leaves stubby ends so leaving the hair long and naturally looks best.

It’s great to see the manes fly when the ponies are moving.


Horse meat ‘beef’ burgers

ponies - Bibby




It’s probably been going on for years and horses have always been slaughtered for food.   Now the food inspectors have proved what we’ve long suspected, that horse meat goes into the food chain.   We’ve campaigned for many years against the live transport of horses for slaughter but it still goes on in the EU.   In this country horses are routinely shipped to Ireland and a lot of the ‘knackermen’ have farms there.   What happens to them next is unknown.  We can be sure that they are not being kept as pets or going into a peaceful retirement home.

Hores are sensitive creatures and are vegetarians.  They stress easily and suffer terribly when they are taken to markets, sold in the ring and crammed on to lorries to suffer their fate.  It’s time to stop this cruel trade.   How to do it is the problem.

Pony with Cushing’s Disease


Krystal has Cushing’s Disease -  it’s a fairly common hormone or ‘endocrine’ disorder in horses and ponies.   It’s not widely realised that ponies with laminitis often have Cushing’s disease – it’s actually the hidden cause of the problem.  This is what happened to Krystal earlier this year and it was only our equine graduate Laura’s prompt diagnosis that saved her life.

When Krystal developed laminitis (fever of the feet) even though she hadn’t been on lush grass or was over fat, we were puzzled.  Laura realised that Cushing’s might be the cause of Krystal’s problems and asked the vet to do a blood test.  Whilst Krystal was being treated for the painful laminitis, we waited anxiously for the result of the test.  It was positive and although we were glad to know what was the cause of Krystal’s illness, we didn’t know whether she would respond to treatment.

It’s been several tense months and at one stage Krystal seemed to be getting worse.  Her feet hurt, her coat was rough (a symptom of Cushing’s) and we had to keep her on a special diet and on soft rubber flooring so she wouldn’t worsen the condition of her tender hooves.

The blacksmith was coming every two weeks, the medication for Cushing’s is a tiny tablet that she has to take every day.  Krystal swallows it without any fuss although we do disguise it in a chunk of apple to make sure it goes down.   It’s been hard to visualize that such a minute pill would cure her.

The vet was optimistic though and for sure she was right.   Krystal has gradually recovered.   Her coat is smooth again, her quality of life is good, she has her appetite back and her hooves are now showing no signs of laminitis.   The blacksmith is happy with her condition and she can go out for exercise again.

It’s been a harrowing ordeal, for us as well as Krystal.  If you have a horse with sudden onset laminitis it always best to have the test for Cushing’s done.   Krystal is such a lovely pony and has suffered so much already, we wish only the best and a happy life for her.   What caused her to become ill with hormonal problems?   I don’t think we’ll ever know.