Exmoor Ponies in Conservation Newsletter

Issue 2 Article 12

Letter from America

First of all, the trimming of Exmoor hooves. My experience is clear. They don't need it. Not at all! Before I bought my trio I had asked Melissa how often they were visited by the farrier. She told me twice a year. I was convinced she was neglecting her animals since I have a standing appointment for my domestic horses and ponies every six to eight weeks. Eight weeks after I got Flax, Bramble and Cactus I had my farrier over for the crew. He had worked with mustangs off the range and studied their wear patterns. He informed me that the Exmoors were a similar case, only much, much better.

In fact I was told they were as close to perfect as he had ever seen. On that occasion he did trim them, as much to handle the ponies as anything else. He has never felt the need to do anything to them again. The hoofs will tend to crack on the tips, then they will break off. Most of the time they look as if they had a farrier visit four weeks previously. Now, I do have Buck, my current farrier, look at them when he comes for the others, but he has never felt the need to trim the Exmoors. In fact, I was warned that if he started, he might mess up what nature has perfected.

That does not mean that I don't handle their feet. They all understand that they must have good manners and pick up their feet whenever a human requests. I understand that if your ponies are usually running free, they may get less handling, but I do think it is important to form a bond that allows us to handle them whenever it is in the pony's best interest.

Okay, onto the next issue, de-worming. All the companies that push the products want us to use the past de-wormers six times a year. I try, and fail miserably. It's expensive with 16 animals, too. However, when I am feeling very guilty I have been known to take in a faecal sample to my veterinarian. I have been reassured consistently that the animals are in good shape, not carrying a load of noxious beasties. In a good year the animals get done four times. I rotate between an ivermectin based product, and usually a pyrantel pamoate paste. I do it myself with the help of an assistant.

Actually, I prefer Polos! (photo by Jenna Mackintosh)

I use some TTEAM techniques I have learned as well as dipping the tip of the paste tube in molasses. The Exmoors are quite cooperative to this procedure, especially after I learned not to restrain them by tying them. My assistant holds them while I manipulate their mouths, then when they are relaxed, administer the paste. Now, all my animals are on a limited amount of land (ten acres), and from everything I have read horses who are allowed to range freely do not need to be wormed at all.

When in doubt, have a faecal sample checked. I have always found that rests any doubts I might have.

by Laverne Harris, Buckley, Washington.