Concerned pony owner’s plea not to feed her animals

A horse owner has appealed to those concerned about the welfare of her ponies not to feed them as this is likely to cause respiratory problems for one of the animals concerned.

Dee Butcher, 82, is the owner of two New Forest ponies, who reside in a field off Deacon’s Lane in Ashey, near Ryde. Dee, who has fifty-five years of experience with equines, was responding to a number of people who claimed her ponies were being ‘neglected’.

Concern had been raised about the living conditions of her ponies: a bay mare, Alice, and a black gelding, Humphrey, both nineteen years old. The two ponies are being kept outside all winter, in a muddy field, without any protection from the elements.

According to Dee, New Forest ponies are a native breed, well-adapted to the British climate, who are suited to living outdoors. Rugs are unnecessary, as they grow thick winter coats. Rugs are only necessary for horses whose coats have been clipped.

Dee added that the ponies lived outdoors on the advice of a vet. The bay mare, Alice, suffers from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which means that she is easily irritated by dust, and, for that reason, should not live indoors. Dee suggested anyone concerned about their living in a field rather than stables in winter should speak either to her or to a vet.

Dee was not happy for those concerned about the welfare of her animals to be feeding them dry food, which she claims harms the ponies (as this may contain particles of dust). The ponies are fed haylage, which is damp, and any solid food they receive is first soaked in water. Dee believes the dry food that has been given to the mare, Alice, is responsible for her having recently developed respiratory problems.

Both New Forest ponies appear to be well fed.