One rider has shared how she helps to keep her community clean with the help of her Shetland pony. Karen Arckle, with 20-year-old Ted, regularly hack out in-hand, which slowly incorporated litter picking.
Environmentally-minded Karen signed up for the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge with her Friesian Percheron cross called Tank. She started noticing refuse being left along the tracks she was riding on, and decided to do something about it.
“When I’m out on Tank and see some litter or a fallen branch, I make a mental note of where it is so I can come back out with Ted to clear it up,” says Karen, 57. “Ted has a Klibber saddle, which is ideal for carrying baskets. It’s like a traditional Shetland pack saddle.”
Karen, who formerly worked for an environmental agency, attaches two bags on either side of Ted’s saddle to hold the collected waste.
“Ted has no problem with anything clonking or scrunching from his back. We pick litter and clear the tracks as a team – he’s a very versatile pony!” she says. “It’s not a particularly littered place where I live, so we probably do it once a quarter.
“It’s mostly farm waste or farm plastic, food wrappers, bottles, tin cans and that sort of thing. It looks a lot tidier afterwards. Individual actions do great things. If I pick it up, someone else doesn’t have to.”
Keeping a Shetland fit
Karen took Ted on when he was just three-years-old to be a companion for Tank, who she purchased when he was just 18 months old.
“We moved to France when I was 40, and had the opportunity to get some land. I saw Tank advertised and really wanted a horse; my partner Terry said I should do it, and it was the best thing I ever did,” shares Karen, who now runs a couple of holiday cottages. “When I bought Tank, Ted came along as a temporary companion – but after a few weeks I knew I couldn’t give him back, so I bought him too. They’ve been together ever since.
“They get on really well, and only have the odd bicker. Tank is 16.3hh now – they really are little and large.”
Whilst Ted is a ride-and-drive pony, Karen doesn’t have anyone who can regularly ride him, and she isn’t keen on driving him, so instead they go out for walks.
“He’s my hiking partner. He’s very calm and easy going for a Shetland. He goes on the lead rein when we are on the roads or the grass is tasty. But when the tracks allow – because they are straightforward and enclosed – I let him off. He follows me like a dog, pootling along behind,” says Karen. “Sometimes he’ll stop to have a mouthful of grass and then trot or gallop to catch up. Because I can’t ride or drive him, it’s the best way to exercise him and keep him fit.”