Horses, Ponies & Donkeys
We have a few permanent resident horses, ponies and donkeys on site who will stay here for the rest of their lives as they have medical or behavioural issues which makes it very difficult to rehome them. We still love them and aim to keep them as naturally and comfortably as possible.
Our horses live in herds and spend the majority of their days out in the fields. If they need to be inside they remain in their social groups so that they do not become stressed. The retired equines are pretty much free to do as they please which is probably what we all hope for at the end of our working days.
If you are visiting you may see our little ‘mini herd’ who cope better when we are busy with visitors. The Sanctuary can get quite lively, particularly during school holidays, which some of the other horses do not enjoy, so much so they spend most of the Summer out in the further fields where it remains peaceful. This also enables us to rest their Winter pasture and rotate the other grazing stock around.
Sometimes the ponies will be inside if the vet or farrier is here or if we are doing some training work in a quieter area.
Horses can live into their 30’s and like all of us do develop age-related health problems that need looking after. Sometimes they might be a bit creakier and need regular medication and some extra TLC.
Our Shetland Ponies
Arnie is a gorgeous Miniature Shetland, he has many health issues despite his young age so will stay with us permanently. He has to be very carefully managed, he is medicated daily for metabolic issues which he does not enjoy. He is usually very quiet and unassuming until he has a mare in his herd, he then thinks he is a big stallion and will look after his lady and protect her from everyone else (also if there is a new lady in the yard, he will quickly dump his girlfriend for the newer model!).
Wotsit is Arnies buddy and is the bigger of the two ponies standing at a whopping 32 inches tall! He is also a miniature Shetland, born in 2011. He came to us on his way to be put to sleep as he was so naughty. It turns out that Wotsit is partially sighted with congenital cataracts so now he has Arnie to hang around with, he is no problem at all. Wotsit also has IBS so we have to be extremely careful what he eats (this is one of the reasons for all the ‘please do not feed the animals’ signs on site). He would quite happily eat pretty much anything he was offered, unfortunately this makes him really ill. Wotsit and Arnie have regular workouts either in the school or out and about on the Sanctuary to help keep those tummies under control.
Isabella was hand reared in a house which confused her somewhat. She is a beautiful girl but can be tricky to handle. She does not enjoy being touched, groomed or generally having anything done with her. She does love kisses on her nose though and is really sweet about it. She will come up to say hello but doesn’t really want to be touched. Even if Isabella is objecting to being handled she always does her best to try not to hurt you. If you’re visiting at tea time in the Winter you may well hear her braying for her food! You can hear her across most of the Sanctuary!
Our older equine residents
Gordon is a Hanoverian x Thoroughbred gelding. DOB 2009 so not an oldie! He was abandoned during the Winter which left him in rather a sorry state. His owner left the country without telling anyone about Gordon, he was left in a field for months with no food or shelter. Poor Gordon has some anxiety issues and many behaviours associated with that so he will stay with us for the rest of his life. Gordon does bite with a very subtle warning which is why he tends to live with the horses who don’t appreciate too much human interaction (for your safety and his anxiety). The way our horses are managed is ideal for a horse like Gordon, he runs with a herd in plenty of space, they have access to a big run-in barn which they are free to come and go from as they choose. Constant access to forage, which is a must for Gordon as he has suffered with stomach ulcers. Despite all this, Gordon is always the first to come and greet us, he is lacking in awareness of personal space or body language so can get closer than we might like! He also has difficulty reading the body language of other horses so he can get himself into trouble from time to time! Gordons true nature really shines when new horses are introduced to the herd, he is the first to say hello to them and will quietly show them around while they settle in.
Bourbon also suffers from high levels of anxiety around humans. She came in with some very extreme behavioural issues, all 100% fear based as a reaction to previous experiences of people. She will live here with Gordon and the others where she will not need to know any unkindness or undue stress for the rest of her days. One can only imagine what she has gone through at some point, it’s just heartbreaking. In amongst her herd, Bourbon has become quite assertive, especially around food, in fact she is the only horse we have seen be able to push Gordon off his meals. We have to babysit Gordon at tea time so he can eat in peace since her arrival! Bourbon seems to rather enjoy investigating essential oils and some herbal teas, not surprisingly she seems to like any that are thought to have calming anti anxiety properties.
Can you help our resident animals?
At Ferne we have over three-hundred resident animals which need life-long care.
Your sponsorship means we can feed, look after and provide further enrichment for our much-loved residents.