Monday, 13 January 2014

Holly's Progress After Two Months.

After two weeks in her large pen in the barn I could see that Holly was getting bored so I took the plunge and hoped she'd follow Dougal out into a paddock. I tied some tape across from the gate to try and prevent her from overshooting the gateway, led Dougal from the barn to the paddock and she followed her new friend out, and later back into the barn, with no problems at all.

Holly had finally started eating some foal mix so I began some short clicker training sessions. Here is a video of our fouth session:

I'm really pleased by how much confidence she's gaining and really looking forward to being able to handle her properly. I had hoped to have done more with her by now but Christmas, wet weather meaning all the horses have been in a lot, and my catching a nasty cold have meant we haven't managed any more sessions since the video. Regardless of that she continues to get braver every day, will now touch my hand with her nose, and her cheeky personality is beginning to emerge.

When we had high winds blowing the rain into her open fronted barn I moved her and Dougal into pens in the sheep and Alpaca barn. She was interested rather than scared of these new acquaintances and took the odd nip at the Greyface Dartmoor ewes when they leaned in to help her eat her haylage!

Going out to the field and back she began hanging back grazing the grass along the pathway then trotting flat out to catch Dougal up when we got to the gateway, with great clumps of grass hanging from her mouth. Now I have to tie Dougal up in the field or barn and go back and round her up as she's more interested in grazing than she in staying with him, and she allows me within touching distance before she bothers to move.

Now I'm fit and healthy again, and the days are slowly getting longer, I'm looking forward to doing some more training. She's a really lovely pony, she makes me laugh often and seeing her and Dougal together.always makes me smile. When I first met Dougal he was about 18 months old, living in the small back garden of a semi detached house in the middle of a town with only a dog for company. Now he's still only about four years old but he's helping to educate a second foal for me (Rico, my PRE, was his first protege). He's worth his weight in gold and I'm so lucky to have him!!!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Introducing Holly.

In the middle of October 2013 I read an appeal on Facebook for homes for a number of Dartmoor Hill Pony foals who would otherwise be slaughtered for zoo meat. I knew I should resist the temptation to look through the albums of foal photos as I already had plenty of ponies and donkeys to look after but I reasoned that there's not much point in having land and facilities if you don't make good use of them. If I could manage to look after one more and assure that one more foal would have a future then it would be a very worthwhile thing to do. I decided that I would only go ahead if one little face shouted louder than the rest when I scrolled through the photos. I looked through the albums several times and it was always this little face below that made my heart skip a beat every time I came back to her, and so the choice was made!
                                                                                                                                                                    I filled in the application form, waited for my references to be checked, arranged transport from Dartmoor to here and waited with baited breath to meet my new friend.

Holly was born on Dartmoor sometime in the spring or summer of 2013. She ran on the moor with her mum and her herd until they were all rounded up in October. She has never been introduced to a headcollar and has hardly ever been touched by humans. She had been microchipped - not the most pleasant of introductions to people!!

On the 17th November 2013 Holly was collected for me by a transport company recommended by the rescue charity, from a farm near Widecombe on Dartmoor, and driven here, arriving in the dark after a 10 hour journey. I thought I had arranged for her to come straight here but a young colt was picked up from a different location and delivered to somewhere in Gloucestershire en route. He gave the driver, seller and purchaser considerable problems loading and unloading which added quite a few hours to the journey. In spite of this Holly arrived cool and calm, still munching the hay the driver had watched her tucking into all the way here on the CCTV! We positioned the lorry next to the barn and she walked down the ramp with minimum persuasion and into her new home; a big, open fronted pen with a deep straw bed, loads of haylage and plenty of fresh water. She immediately headed for the haylage and carried on eating! I love native ponies!!!

I got up with great excitement the next morning as I still hadn't seen her in daylight. I raced outside to check on her and she was still eating! She had drunk plenty of water and her droppings were firm and numerous so I reckoned all was well. She was cautious and watchful when anyone went near her but never really panicky. I'm writing this two weeks later and I have only seen her trot off a couple of steps twice in all that time, when I moved a bit too quickly for her. She was calm about me being in the pen with her as long as I didn't get too close or appear to be heading straight towards her.

I wanted to put Dougal, my mini Shetland, in with Holly but he seems to have expanded somewhat recently so I daren't leave him with Holly's ad lib haylage for more than an hour a day so I made a pen up for him next to her. He's very good with her and they seem to like each other but she's quite an independent little soul and doesn't worry when I turn him out with his big girlfriend, Bella, during the day.

Although Holly loved her haylage right from the start she had never experienced any other food and I needed to get her eating something with more protein, vitamins and minerals in asap, both for her growth and development and so I can introduce her to clicker training!
Holly and Dougal saying hello for the first time.