Would you know if your pony was fat?
Jive Pony founder Rebecca Townsend was one of the many horse owners who didn’t realise her horse was overweight.
Although, as a gymnast and circus performer, Rebecca was very aware of the importance of good health and fitness, she couldn’t see that her beloved Highland pony Ronan was carrying a few too many pounds.
It took a brave visit from World Horse Welfare rep Steffi de Bootman and her colleague Samantha Lewis to make her see that she could even be risking Ronan’s health.
Rebecca tours the country with her act Jive Pony, in which she performs tricks such as skipping and dancing with the lovely Ronan.
She was at the CLA Game Fair last summer when she was approached by the ladies from WHW Right Weight Project.
They pointed out that although they had enjoyed the show very much they thought that, just maybe, Ronan was a little overweight.
“They were really, really nice about it, but I was horrified. It made me think that if they’d been brave enough to approach me about this there must be something really wrong.
“A few friends had started to say to me that Ronan was overweight, but I hadn’t really paid much attention until Steffi came over.”
Rebecca was given the WHW fat-scoring video and ‘fat pack’, and talked through steps she could take to make Ronan happier and healthier. These included walk exercise and use of a grazing muzzle.
Rebecca said: “I always thought Ronan was big because he was a Highland Pony. And, of course, I used treats as a reward for his training, which didn’t help.
“Now I know that his weight is damaging his health. The work I am expecting him to do is not typical work for a Highland and any excess weight will put additional strain on him. I am determined to get him slim for 2009.”
See Rebecca and Ronan in action HERE
Get Ronan slim – action plan
- Two grazing muzzles. These are alternated to prevent rubbing. Rebecca says: “Ronan has about an hour a day without a muzzle. But all the rest of the time it’s on – and boy do they work!
- Ronan is always keen to have his muzzle on – because Rebecca bribes him with a piece of low-calorie grub. “If you treat it like a nosebag and pop a small piece of carrot or something in the bottom, you’ll find your horse can’t wait to get it on,” she said.
- The pair are also trying to do a lot more walking. But no more ambling around. “I make him really walk out and I carry a schooling whip – which seems to focus his mind really well!” said Rebecca.
She added: “We still have to work hard to keep all this going, but there is a difference in him and it’s a good one. I think he will find this coming season easier. So thanks for the great advice World Horse Welfare, and thanks for ultimately helping my wonderful boy out!”
Click here to go to:
WHW Right Weight Project
Downloads (incl fat assessment chart)
Fat scoring video