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!
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.|