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Horsey people, help needed !

(19 Posts)
CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 20:59:50

We are keeping an eye on a friend’s horses while they are away for a couple of nights, keeping them watered and making sure all is ok etc. They will be back tomorrow, but not until late. One pony has to wear a special head collar with a muzzle like thing, as he is a small tubby Shetland, out in a field, and he is at risk of laminitis. The head collar stops him from over eating. It was fine this morning, but we checked them again an hour ago and somehow it is off. Possibly a well meaning walker has removed it. We have tried and tried to catch him, offered apple etc, but he got away at the first attempt and now is very wary. Any tips ? We have been calling our friend but she is at an event so it is probably hard to hear the ‘phone.

CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 21:04:17

I should add he is absolutely stuffing his face full of grass. Obv.

choccybuttonshelpeverything Sat 24-Aug-19 21:09:36

I'd keep trying to catch him. It doesn't take much for a laminitis prone pony to have a flare up, unfortunately

maxelly Sat 24-Aug-19 21:11:37

Ok don't panic, it's not good for the tubby ones to overeat but he won't get sick from a few hours with it off. It's quite likely he removed it himself, these little ponies are very clever and mischievous! I don't blame you for not being able to catch him, little Shitlands as they are known round here are surprisingly quick on their feet and stubborn too when they want to be.

If you can I'd give it another go catching him, you need something much more valuable as a bribe, has your friend got any hard feed? something which will rattle in a bucket is usually highly attractive. Or failing that, polos? Catch his friend first if you can and give him/her some food, little one will probably be jealous and come over. Plan B would be trying to corner him (you'll need 3 people at least) or create a smaller enclosure within the main field using electric taping but try and catch him first... Good luck!

poolblack Sat 24-Aug-19 21:11:55

A bucket and some hard feed should help you get the little bugger. He definitely needs his muzzle back on.

CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 21:19:37

I don’t know if they have any hard feed, as it wasn’t mentioned, but I will look for some, and get some Polos.. we fed one of the horses a small apple chunk, to get his interest, he came over, but hived off speedily as soon as DH tried to get the head-collar on him. No electric tape there, just fencing. Will they get very stressed if we go back and try again now in the dark do you think ? We will be there again at eight a.m. but he will be munching away all that time if we don’t get the collar on him. No way of knowing how long it had been off today, it was on at nine a.m. but could have been off for hours. (Although the way he was frantically munching suggested to me that it hadn’t been off all that long).

writersbeenblocked Sat 24-Aug-19 21:23:18

Do they have a lunge line or three on site, that could be a temporary substitute for tape? And do you have an equine Facebook group for your area (search Horsepoo [your county]) - if so, is it worth posting and asking for help catching him?

maxelly Sat 24-Aug-19 21:27:23

I'd give it another try tonight, the dark will make it harder for you but shouldn't stress them. Def take food in a bucket, then if/when he comes over just sling a lead rope over his neck so you have him, then fiddle with the actual headcollar once he can't get away. Another thing you could try is taking the other horse out of the field which may make him more amenable to being caught himself...

Runbikeswim Sat 24-Aug-19 21:29:56

Yes lunge line to corner him - or use the rope from the headcollar to slip round his neck and then hold both ends together when you give him the Apple or whatever - doesn't take as long as getting a headcollar on and they can't get out of it as fast (or before they realize it is happening. Or if it's in afield with others take them out first.

Runbikeswim Sat 24-Aug-19 21:30:55

X post with maxilly

maxelly Sat 24-Aug-19 21:33:44

Lol same advice runbikeswim smile

CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 21:33:56

A lead rope, of course, I didn’t think of that. I will have a look around for one. I don’t think we can get the other two out of the field, it is roughish hill pasture and I am not at all certain where their land ends.
I am calling a local farmer to see if she has any pony nuts.

CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 21:56:38

No joy on the pony nuts, but we can get help tomorrow I think if he is still evading capture. They are only away for such a short time that we didn’t go through the capture system...I am sensible with animals and have helped with horses but don’t know much about them. I have been much more worried about their elderly sheep getting fly strike as it is so hot, now I am worrying about fatso getting laminitis too.
A, v grateful for all the advice, thank you.

FurrySlipperBoots Sat 24-Aug-19 22:00:41

Best of luck OP! It's horribly stressful caring for people's animals isn't it? I'm a nanny, and totally fine with that responsibility, but go to pieces with pets for some reason!

CharlesChickens Sat 24-Aug-19 22:07:36

My best friend (the most conscientious and kind person), had a friend’s pet rabbit die while she was looking after it. She was so upset. DH went ahead to check the equines while I fed the cats, he ‘phoned down and told dd “tell Mum there is a problem with the pony” and for an awful few minutes I thought he had died ! So the lack of face harness was a slight relief.

writersbeenblocked Sun 25-Aug-19 11:00:10

Face harness?

Any luck with crafty pony today?

CharlesChickens Sun 25-Aug-19 12:29:45

No luck , but we have spoken to our friends this morning and they are not worried as they will be home this evening. They said it is extremely difficult to catch her ( I got her sex wrong ) once the mask is off, as she does not like the face thing at all. There are four of them so they will be able to sort it out later, I think it takes more manpower than just DH and I !! Meanwhile she gets to scoff grass all day. Cloudy today, so at least a lower sugar level in the grass, according to the farmer.
Thanks all for the advice. If they had been away for any longer we would have had to get the electric tape I think, farmer said she would bring some over if needed. The merest glimpse of a leading rope had her hiving off, even though it was for one of the horses who was hassling for the treats.

Vanhi Sun 25-Aug-19 19:54:36

If something similar happens in future, do not try to catch the pony with the grazing muzzle and headcollar - though I guess you've worked that out now! And don't wave the headcollar around over their heads. If you can keep them moving and not allow them to settle they generally give up and let you catch them. It does take practise though and Shetlands are canny.

Booboostwo Mon 26-Aug-19 08:33:01

Sorry to say this but your friends are quite irresponsible asking you to look after their horses when you are so inexperienced (which is not your fault, it takes a lot of handling of different horses before you know what you are doing).

A laminitic pony left to eat grass for 24 hours is most definitely at risk of an attack, you'd need to feel her hooves and take her pulse to see if she was borderline, but clearly you cannot do that if you don't know how and can't even catch her. Catching a reluctant pony is quite a skill and you have to be careful not to get kicked.

Not much you can do now, but I would not offer to look after these horses again in the future if I were you.

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