Seek­ing a place to graze

Gander man hopes to es­tab­lish cen­tral lo­ca­tion for his New­found­land ponies

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

Terry Dwyer stands next to a trac­tor he pur­chased to de­velop land and har­vest hay for his New­found­land ponies.

How­ever, the weeds have grown around its wheels and it’s easy to tell it has been some time since it moved. It’s be­cause Dwyer has never had the chance to use the piece of ma­chin­ery.

The Gander res­i­dent has been sep­a­rated from his 21 New­found­land ponies for four years, as he has been un­able to ac­quire the land he needs to care for them. He’s look­ing for 50 acres.

“Each horse is sup­posed to have one acre for pas­ture, and you’d want ex­tra for win­ter feed,” he said. “If not, you’re go­ing to be buy­ing hay all win­ter long.”

Dwyer’s story started with a sin­gle stal­lion and a mare in Bri­tish Columbia where he was liv­ing back in 1998. He would later add three mares, and dur­ing his time in in the western prov­ince, more than 20 foals were born.

The ponies were brought back to New­found­land four years ago, when Dwyer trucked them across the coun­try.

But find­ing 50 acres of land has been dif­fi­cult, and now his 21 ponies are be­ing cared for at dif­fer­ent farms through­out the prov­ince, along with the six that are in Nova Sco­tia.

“It’s cost­ing me a for­tune to keep them at th­ese places,” Dwyer said. “One of those round bales of hay de­liv­ered to your door is 100 dol­lars. I had 10 mares eat­ing 12 of those a month last win­ter. That’s $1,200 per month, and that’s only 10 of them.”

He says ac­cess to suit­able land would al­low him to sta­ble and care for the ponies him­self at a much cheaper cost.

While he hasn’t placed an ap­pli­ca­tion with Crown Lands, Dwyer says he has had dis­cus­sions with pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives about his cause, but with­out much luck.

Ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources, which over­sees Crown Lands, there are no re­sources in place to as­sist those who look after the prov­ince’s her­itage an­i­mal.

“…There is no ded­i­cated fund­ing or pro­gram to sup­port the main­te­nance of New­found­land ponies on any pas­ture or to pro­vide for the costs as­so­ci­ated with their main­te­nance,” read a de­part­ment-is­sued state­ment. “This would be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of their own­ers, as would be the case with any other horse owner.”

The de­part­ment ac­cepts ap­pli­ca­tions for Crown Lands at Re­gional Lands of­fices through­out the prov­ince, and in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the suitabil­ity of pas­ture land is avail­able through the de­part­ment’s Land Man­age­ment Divi­sion.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions for agri­cul­tural leases are ac­cepted for pas­ture lands but such ap­pli­ca­tions for ponies are not com­mon,” the state­ment read. “Any ap­pli­ca­tion for pas­ture land would re­quire a suit­able farm de­vel­op­ment plan.”

But the 54-year-old is de­ter­mined to keep work­ing to­wards a cen­tral lo­ca­tion for his ponies.

Be­cause, for Dwyer, it’s about the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the New­found­land Pony.

“When I was a young feller in Har­bor Grace there used to be lots of them. Now you can hardly find one. With­out peo­ple like me there’s not go­ing to be very many of th­ese ponies left,” he said. “Who’s fool­ish enough to raise that many ponies for over 20 years and not make five cents on it?”

He’ll con­tinue search­ing for a way to find a per­ma­nent home for his ponies.

“I’m still hop­ing and try­ing to get some­thing set up for cen­tral New­found­land,” he said. “I don’t see my ponies very of­ten, I wish I could get them all together, if there’s any town or bay around cen­tral that can ac­com­mo­date me, I’ll go.”

Sup­port for the cause

Netta LeDrew, owner of the New­found­land Pony Sanc­tu­ary on Change Is­lands, un­der­stands Dwyer’s frus­tra­tions.

It took LeDrew five years to ac­quire land for the sanc­tu­ary.

“It was a long strug­gle,” she said. “Iden­ti­fy­ing the right piece of land wasn’t easy.”

But she kept with it, and now the sanc­tu­ary houses 12 ponies. LeDrew cer­tainly en­cour­ages Dwyer to con­tinue his cause.

“The more peo­ple that can get in­volved with this the bet­ter,” LeDrew said. “I can cer­tainly sym­pa­thize with Mr. Dwyer… and I would tell him to keep fight­ing.”

Jack Har­ris, pres­i­dent of the New­found­land Pony So­ci­ety, said Dwyer hasn’t reached out to the so­ci­ety for as­sis­tance, but the or­ga­ni­za­tion is will­ing to help where it can.

“We would cer­tainly be in­ter­ested in help­ing him if he has some land in mind and wanted to go through the process.”

“I don’t see my ponies very of­ten, I wish I could get them all together.”

-Terry Dwyer, New­found­land pony owner

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CAROLYN PAR­SONS

Known for its loy­alty, brav­ery and obe­di­ence, the New­found­land Pony was once a com­mon sight How­ever, the in­tro­duc­tion of heavy equip­ment ma­chin­ery made the species ob­so­lete and it nearly went ex­tinct

ADAM RAN­DELL/CEN­TRAL VOICE

Four years ago, Terry Dwyer made the de­ci­sion to move back the is­land with his 21 New­found­land ponies Since ar­riv­ing he has had dif­fi­culty find­ing land to graze and care for the ponies him­self Now the herd is scat­tered across dif­fer­ent farms in the prov­ince

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