Friday, 14 October 2011

Fireworks and equines

Fireworks can frighten even the most sensible horse. Therefore, the BHS has put together a checklist for owners:

  • Look at local press and local shops’ notice boards and listen to the radio to find out where the displays will be in your area.
  • Wherever possible, tell neighbours and local firework display organisers that there are horses nearby, so they can ensure fireworks are set off in the opposite direction and well away from them.
  • Decide whether to stable your horse or leave it in the field. It is sensible to keep your horse in its familiar environment, in its normal routine, with any companions to make it feel secure. If it is usually stabled, keep it stabled. If it is normally out in the field, keep it there as long as it is safe, secure and not close to the firework display area.
  • If stabled, check thoroughly for anything that could cause potential injury such as protruding nails and string.
  • If your horse is to stay in the field, check that fencing is not broken and that there are no foreign objects lying around.
  • Ensure that you, or someone experienced, stays with your horse if you know that fireworks are being set off.
  • If it is absolutely necessary for you to leave your horse in the care of another person during a firework display, then be sure to leave clear instructions and contact details for both you and your vet should any problems arise.
  • If you know your animal will be stressed, talk to your vet about sedation, or perhaps consider moving your horse for the night.
  • Playing music on a radio positioned outside the stable can often mask sudden noise, distract attention and be soothing.
  • Try to remain calm yourself and keep positive, as horses will sense unease in a person and this may make things worse if the horse is startled.
  • It may seem common sense but be aware of your own safety; a startled horse can be dangerous.
  • Whatever you do – don’t risk riding when you think fireworks might be set off.
  • Check if there will be a bonfire near your yard. If there is, make sure you have an emergency fire procedure in place. If you have any doubts, talk to your local fire safety officer.
  • Make sure that you have adequate third party liability insurance. If your horse is frightened and escapes, causing an accident, then you could be held liable for compensation.
By being proactive in planning for fireworks and Bonfire Night, you can make the annual celebrations less stressful for you and your horse.

It is not just horse owners who need to be careful. Anyone organising a firework display should inform local horse owners. It is also a good idea not to let fireworks off anywhere near fields or farms.

Most people don’t realise how much suffering fireworks cause to animals, particularly horses and those who really want to have fireworks in their back garden should think carefully about how it will affect the local animals before they do so.

extract from British Horse Society Reporting of Equestrian Incidents

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Horse of the Week

If you are interested in famous horses from the show jumping, dressage, eventing or horse racing world you might like a great new blog called Horse of the Week which features posts about favourite horses from thoses disciplines. The horse in the above picture with one white stocking is Eclipse the famous racehorse who was recently featured on Horse of the Week.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

White Stockings - horse leg markings

A horse or pony has stockings when the white marking reaches at least to the knee or hock, usually over as shown in the above photograph.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

White Socks

A sock is a white marking that extends higher than the fetlock but not as high as the knee or hock, here we've used a painting by John Frederick Herring Jnr to illustrate white socks.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Pony Club

Did you know that you can join The Pony Club even if you don't have a pony of your own?

Membership is open to boys and girls up to 21 years of age and there are almost 40,000 Pony Club Members in Great Britain who belong either to one of the 357 Branches or 260 Centres. Pony Club membership offers fun, friendship, training, events and competitions.

If you haven't got your own pony you can join one of the 260 Centres linked to The Pony Club in Great Britain, you pay an  annual subscription and receive instruction at a linked Riding Centre, the subscription gives you Membership of the Club and 3rd party insurance. You'll be encouraged to learn more about riding and horse and pony care and improve your knowledge by working toward gaining Achievement Badges (there are 20 covering a range of subjects) and Pony Club Tests.

Find out more about The Pony Club by visiting the website

Friday, 9 September 2011

Rusty: the Trustworthy Pony ,Tilly's Pony Tails 15 by Pippa Funnell

Pippa Funnell's latest Tilly's Pony Tails book, Rusty: the Trustworthy Pony,  was published on 1st September, this time Tilly Redbrow, who doesn't just love horses - she lives, breathes and dreams them too, senses something special about gentle pony Rusty.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Pullen-Thompson Sisters

Between them Josephine, Diana and Christine Pullen-Thompson have written over a 100 well loved pony books over the past 60 or so years. If you've ever enjoyed a Pullen-Thompson book you may be intersted in this Daily Mail interview:

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Spotted horses and ponies - Appaloosa

A spotted horse or pony is called an Appaloosa and they don't have to have spots all over like the pony in the above picture. Appaloosa's have a mottled skin and are a recognised breed in the USA.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ragwort and the Cinnabar Moth

 The Ragwort plant is very poisionous to horses and other animals, fortunately most creatures don't like the taste of Ragwort. But there is one little creature that loves Ragwort.

The Cinnabar Moth

 Adult Cinnabar Moths lay their eggs on the Ragwort

 and when they hatch the caterpillars eat the leaves.

The caterpillars  absorb the bitter tasting alkaloids that make Ragwort taste horrible to other animals this then makes the caterpillars taste horrible to birds. The bright striped black and orange-yellow colour of the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars is a warning to birds not to eat them.

Photographs of the Cinnabar Moth courtesy of My Equestrian World

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Moorland Mousie by Golden Gorse

Founder of The Moorland Mousie Trust, Valerie Sherwin, has seen one of her long-term dreams come true this week with the launch of a reprint of Moorland Mousie, the popular children's book originally written by Golden Gorse and published initially in 1929.  The book is available from the Trust by mail order at a cover price of £11.99 with postage and packaging of £3 for a single copy, £4.50 for 2 or 3 copies and £6 for 4 copies. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Horse in a Million by Patricia Leitch

This month Catnip Publishing have re-republished book six of the Jinny series written by Patricia Leith, Horse in a Million.

The Jinny series is one of the best-loved pony series of all time. The books follow Jinny as she rescues the beautiful Arab mare Shantih, and struggles to learn to ride her.  They are set in the Scottish highlands and also contain elements of mystery and magic.

In "Horse in a Million" Shantih goes missing, will Jinny ever see her again?

The cover of this paperback features a photograph of a real life Shantih. This Shantih belongs to photographer Karen Budkiewicz who read the Jinny stories as a child and has named her chestnut Arab mare Shantih.

A Brown Horse or Pony

A brown horse or pony has a mixture of black and brown pigmented hairs in it's coat with a black mane and tail.

Hands High

If you ask how tall a pony is the answer will be given to you in hands, eg. 14 hands high (usually written as14hh). But what does that mean?

Well thousands of years ago the hand was a simple measurement where people actually used the width of their own hand to measure things. Of course eventually a set measurement had to be decided for a hand and this was 4 inches or 10 centimetres.

So a hand is 4 inches or 10 cms.

Now where is a horse or pony measured from?

We measure the height of a horse from his withers. So a 10hh pony is 40 inches or 100 cms tall at the withers.

Now not all horses or ponies are going to measure exactly a certain number of hands, most of them are going to be a bit over eg. 13.2hh. What does the .2 mean? Well that is 2 inches or 5 cms. So a 13.2hh pony measure 13 full hands + an extra 2 inches.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Dandelions for horses

Did you know that dandelions are good for horses and humans to eat? 

 Dandelions contain more Vitamin A & C than other vegetables and they are full of minerals especially iron, copper and potash. Copper is  important as it activates zinc in the body and zinc is necessary for wound healing, fertility and white blood cell production.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Anna Sewell

Have you read the book "Black Beauty", seen the film or the TV series based on the book? 

Black Beauty was written as a last blow against cruelty by a woman who was told that she had only 18 months to live. Her name was Anna Sewell.

Anna Sewell was the daughter of Norfolk Quakers, Mary and Issac Sewell. Issac tried many jobs icluding bank managing and drapery but unfortunately he wasn't very good at any of them so the family had to move a lot as money was always short.

Mary Sewell, Anna's mother, was a school teacher and she educated both Anna nad her brother. She encouraged Anna's love of literature and taught her that cruelty was abhorrent - "the devil's trade-mark".

Sadly, when Anna was only 14 she had an accident that injured her ankle and for some reason it refused to heal properly. Often Anna could not walk because of the pain, but she could ride and this started Anna Sewell's close indentification with horses. She made a habit of talking to them kindly, "Now thee must go a little faster - thee would be sorry for us to be late."

When Anna was 57 she was told that she had only 18 months to live and she set about writing the story Black Beauty in an attempt to alleviatiate cruelty to horses.

Anna Sewell died 4 months after publication of the book Black Beauty. Even so Anna suceeded in her mission, Black Beauty has sold over 40 million copies. It has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindustani, Turkish and Braille amongst other languages. Animal welfare groups have given copies to stable hands and drivers to read and it is believed that Black Beauty is one of the few novels that has actually suceeded in reducing suffering.

How tall do donkeys grow?

Donkeys stand between 10 hands (102cms) and 14 hands (142cms) high but they can also come in all sorts of sizes, the Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys in the above photograph stand less than 9 hands (91cms) high and the Poitou and the American Mammoth donkey can reach up to 17 hands (173cms) high!

(Photograph courtesy of My equestrian World)

Monday, 18 July 2011

Phantom Horse by Christine Pullein-Thompson

Phantom, the palamino, runs wild in the Virginia mountains of America. Jean and her brother, Angus, tame him and bring him to England. Christine Pullein - Thompson's series featuring their exciting and mysterious adventures at home and abroad has been re-released by Award.
There are six exciting adventures in the series with covers illustrated by Jennifer Bell.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Did you know that Buttercups are Poisionous to Horses?

Buttercups contain an irritating alkaloid that can cause increased salivation, blistering and inflamation of the mouth. But, fortunately most equines won't eat Buttercups as they have a burning taste and the good news is that when Buttercups are dried they are no longer toxic, so you don't have to worry if you find the odd one or two in your horses hay.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Liver Chesnut

Chestnut horses and ponies don't just come in the ginger colour there is also a liver chestnut which is more brownish in appearance. In the above photograph of a showing class the pony on the left with the white blaze is a liver chestnut.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pippa Funnell's new Tilly book -

Buttons the Naughty Pony is the latest Pippa Funnell book to be published in the Tilly's Pony Tails series and it's out on Friday 8th July.

"Meet Tilly Redbrow, who doesn't just love horses - she lives, breathes and dreams them too! Follow Tilly's adventures as she learns to ride and care for the horses at Silver Shoe Farm, and develops her special gift, with a little help from her favourite horse, Magic Spirit. For every girl who has ever longed for a pony of her own, these delightful, warm and engaging stories are packed with Pippa Funnell's expert advice on everything you ever wanted to know about horses. "

A Chestnut horse or pony

A chesnut horse or pony is a ginger colour with a mane and tail the same sort of ginger / reddish colour although these can be a  slightly lighter or darker shade than the coat. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


A piebald horse or pony has large irregular patches of black and white.

Monday, 4 July 2011


A skewbald horse or pony has large irregular patches of white with any other colour except black.

White or Grey Horse?

It is not correct to describe a white horse as white, it is a light grey unless it is a Lippizaner in which case it is correctly described as white.

So the horse in the first picture is a light grey and the horse in the picture from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna is white.

Steel or Iron Grey

A grey coat contains a mix of black and white hairs, a steel or iron grey horse or pony has more black hairs than white and the black hairs are spread evenly through the coat.

Dapple Grey

 Grey horses or ponies have a mixture of black and white hairs in their coats, a dapple grey has light patches of hair in circles on a darker background.

Both of these ponies are dapple grey but as you can see the one in the first picture has more black hairs than the one in the second.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Shetland Pony

Shetland Ponies orginally came from the Shetland Isles in Scotland where they have existed for over 2000 years making the Shetland Pony the oldest of the British Native Breeds. Archaeologists  found bones of small ponies when they excavted Bronze Age sites so it is believed that the Shetland Pony has been domesticated since the Bronze age. There were'nt any roads on the Shetland Isles until the 19th Century so the ponies were orginally used as pack animals and to carry their owners.

Winters in the Shetland Isles can be very harsh and the smallness of the Shetland Pony enabled it to survive sometimes by eating seaweed on the beach. Shetland ponies are very hardy, very strong and long lived.

A true Shetland Pony shouldn't be any heigher than 42 inches (107cms), measured at the withers, they should have small heads with long manes and tails and they come in all horse colours except spotted.