We meet some of Flyer’s pony pals at Cotswold RDA

Meet the rest of the ponies at Cotswold RDA.

The People's Friend - - 8 -

OUR se­ries on life at Cotswold Rid­ing for the Dis­abled group has fo­cused on two of the ponies that live there. In this month’s visit we have been find­ing out more about some of the other horsey heroes and the fun they get up to with their friend Flyer.

There are 13 horses and ponies at Cotswold RDA. They live in the lush fields around Chel­tenham Race­course, and are cared for by Yard Man­ager Debbie and groom Lou, with the sup­port of a great team of vol­un­teers and staff at the char­ity.

Look­ing af­ter this baker’s dozen cer­tainly keeps Debbie and Lou busy!

Griffin, Rocky, Den­ver, Dave, Cookie, Ross, Bob, Sunny, Max, Bobby, Woody and new kid on the block, Fred­die, are all Flyer’s friends at Cotswolds.

Dave is the group’s big friendly gi­ant while “class clown” Griffin keeps every­one en­ter­tained by pulling faces. Rocky likes noth­ing more than a re­lax­ing roll on the ground (es­pe­cially when he’s just been groomed) and has a habit of pick­ing things up and car­ry­ing them around.

“They all have dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties – and there’s never a dull mo­ment,” Debbie says.

As herd an­i­mals, horses like to have a peck­ing order and the Cotswold ponies are no dif­fer­ent.

In Flyer’s field, which he shares with his friend Woody, as well as Den­ver and Rocky, it’s Ross who’s in charge, while over in the big field, Cookie takes charge of his friends Max, Dave, Bob and Griffin.

“You’ll see Cookie lead­ing them round the field in a line,” Debbie says. “He’ll also be the first to be al­lowed to eat if we put hay down – it’s their way of show­ing who’s boss.”

As Debbie, Lou and the team pre­pare the ponies for win­ter, there is plenty to be done to keep Cotswold’s equine helpers in tip­top con­di­tion. De­spite liv­ing out­side, the cold isn’t re­ally a prob­lem.

Their warm coats – with the ad­di­tion of rugs when nec­es­sary – make them well suited to the cooler tem­per­a­tures. But the win­ter brings other chal­lenges – like try­ing to keep them clean and dry.

Groom­ing ob­vi­ously keeps them look­ing smart, and it is im­por­tant for their health, too.

“Muddy fields can cre­ate prob­lems for horses’ hooves,” Debbie ex­plains. “We try to keep their feet as clean and dry as the weather will al­low, and make sure they al­ways have some­where rea­son­ably dry to stand even when they are out­side.”

Bring­ing the ponies in for their RDA work is a great time to check their feet for any prob­lems, to give them a good rub down and make sure they are fit and well.

“When they’ve fin­ished work we dry

off any sweat, give them a hay net, put a nice warm rug on if they need it and send them back out­side for more fun.”

The weather brings an­other chal­lenge too: frisky be­hav­iour! When the wind gets up, Flyer and his friends like noth­ing more than giv­ing Debbie and Lou the run around, much to their frus­tra­tion and amuse­ment.

“It’s like their field be­comes a play­ground when the wind gets up,” Debbie says. “They can be stand­ing still one minute then they all take off, so catch­ing them takes for ever, but it’s great to see them hav­ing fun.”

RDA life car­ries on through­out the win­ter, with Flyer and his friends en­joy­ing shar­ing their time be­tween help­ing their dis­abled rid­ers and play­ing out­side in the field.

Debbie and Lou put in the hours to keep them healthy, happy and well­trained for their rid­ers, but it’s worth the ef­fort.

“They give so much to us hu­mans, and the least we can do is give them the best pos­si­ble care,” Debbie says. “Look­ing af­ter these amaz­ing horses is the best job in the world.” n

Next time: It’s Christ­mas at Cotswold RDA.

Rocky can’t re­sist pick­ing up toys.

Flyer and Woody like to graze close to­gether.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.