Category Archives: news

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for April

Well it has to be said that this is a first – this month’s Musings are being sent to you via a tablet (thankfully not one the humans have to force me to take). This is because the tapping human, who helps me pen my inspirational thoughts (obviously, hooves are a bother for this)  is apparently ‘on holiday’ (has she no shame? She should try being me – there’s no holiday when you’re an adored public figure!!) The human has said this means fewer pics and only brief updates, so forgive me for this rather erudite version.

Horse News

  • Fagan and Cloud have become best friends and little Fagan is pretending to be a Big Boy by copying what Cloud does.
  • Domino went to his forever home yesterday, which is such good news for him and for my grass. It’s a great home where he will be trained to be a children’s ridden pony as well as a driving pony, so he’ll have a good CV for the future.
  • Humbug is back and, rather worryingly, starting to boss me and my friends around! She is greedier and more food-obsessed than I am! I may have to up my food needs a notch!!
  • All my friends are now in our summer routine, so we’re all out at night, with lots of grooming and pampering at breakfast.
  • Rodney, Fergus, Bernie, Joey and Sago are all now really good friends and are having a right ball in their field over the road.
  • Maggie’s been quite stiff recently, as her arthritis in her hocks has flared up. The humans have purchased some Devils Claw supplement, to add to her daily Tumeric paste and Bute and she has daily hock massages and regular cold hose treatment. The humans certainly work hard to make us all as comfortable as possible.
  • Coco & Banjo are having an equine podiatrist treatment this week, so will be getting the full treatment on their hooves.Donkeys are designed for hot countries, so their hooves suffer a lot in the English climate. How lucky am I that I’m half pony!
  • The lovely India has been working with Flint and Rafael, training them to pick up their hooves. They are becoming so much better that the humans have booked for them to see a farrier as well.
  • Milo, Lenny and Jerri came back to the sanctuary for a holiday and to have their hooves trimmed, teeth rasped and a full MOT before going to their summer grazing.
  • Off-site, one of the kind people who fosters ponies for us now has six of my friends staying with her and we have around 20 young ponies in urgent need of homes now. If anyone reading this can offer a home, please get in touch with the humans

Sanctuary News

  • The biggest piece of non-horse news is, of course, that I was invited to attend the UK Blog Awards Final because of the public vote for these Musings. I was just organising a mane trim, when I discovered two birthday girls were bringing all their friends to meet me at the sanctuary the same weekend. Anyone who reads these Musings knows how seriously I take my public role. Enter Mini-Muffin, knitted by Lesley…….the perfect Hope Pastures’ solution to double-booking – a knitted Mini-Me. I organised a human to escort Mini-Muffin to London and I even lent her my special muffler to match Mini-Muffin’s. I’m confident they were the smartest pair at the Awards, despite the human refusing to wear a streak of white on her bottom. Mini-Muffin had a very exciting day travelling to the Big City for the UK Blog Awards presentation evening. He was overwhelmed by how busy it is in the metropolis AND at the Awards. Although I didn’t win, I was pleased to learn that I was one of the Top 8 in my category, out of 2,000 entries! THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me.
  • We’ve had a couple of herds of large humans visiting this month and they’ve started re-painting our fences and stables. I’m keeping an eye out for any who are ‘special’ and talented enough to be allowed to make my abode beautiful. Watch this space….
  • We have also had the herds of fillies and colts coming to see us this month. I’ve missed them over Winter and was glad the weather was good when they came, so they could enjoy time outside, with my friends and me.

Well, tapping human says that’s enough for this ‘tablet update’. Don’t worry – I’ll be writing a full Musing again next month. All the humans are getting excited about the forthcoming Spring Fayre on 7th May – I hope to see you there! Love Muffin xx
Sent from my iPad – please excuse typos and short replies!

Part time job vacancy

Weekend Yard Staff Position 
We are searching for a person, or persons to work on our busy stable yard on a Saturday and/or Sunday, we will consider applications for either or both days.
To apply you must have equine and yard work experience and be capable and confident in working in a busy environment, helping to manage the routine of both equines and humans on-site.
You must be very reliable, punctual and able to be flexible at times and physically able to carry out all stable yard and equine handling tasks.
If this is you, find out more HERE

First Unicorn Foal in the UK

We’re so excited to announce the birth of the very first unicorn in the UK here, at Hope Pastures. Our experienced team have been on a round-the-clock vigil for a week now, as his mother was clearly very close to delivering, and little Urwin was finally born early this morning.

The birth was more difficult than normal equines, due to the need to ensure the horn was extricated carefully and didn’t damage the mare. Fortunately, unicorn horns are relatively soft at birth and harden with exposure to the air, so, with great care, the team worked with the mare to perfect the positioning of the foal during the birth and make sure both mum and baby were okay.

Once Urwin was delivered, the team checked his breathing and vital signs to satisfy themselves he was okay. He responded to their touch within a couple of seconds, had a suckle reflex within five minutes and his heart rate was normal. He could stand within an hour and started to nurse within two hours.

As a unicorn’s horn hardens it becomes more difficult to suckle from the mare, so, unlike ponies, unicorns start to eat grass from about five hours after birth – lush, green spring grass is perfect for a unicorn, so our little foal has picked an ideal time to come into this world.

Well done to Urwin, his mum and our team; and special thanks to our vet for his support – never has the old wives’ saying “make sure you pick a vet with long, strong arms” been more applicable. Welcome little Urwin.

We’d LOVE this to be true!!! We hope you you’ve enjoyed dreaming with us – Happy April 1st.

Photo credit and thanks for the idea to R&R Country – very generous supporters of Hope Pastures.

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for March

It’s officially Spring and in honour of this I’ve let Coco show us his best smile as the pic for this month’s Musings – don’t worry, my handsome visage will be back next month.

With the warmer weather, I’ve persuaded the humans to let my friends and me stay out in our field all day and all night now! How much grass??? Actually not that much, but I can see it growing as I muse and I’m doing my very best to fertilise it throughout the day. Gypsy and Freddie still spend the evenings in their stables, as they have their special food then (slightly worrying – I may have to investigate this), but for the rest of us this new routine means we’re each fed separately in the arena in the morning and then we’re given a groom as well. This certainly sets me up for the day. Well done humans.

The big horses are still in their stables at night, but if the grass does get a shift on and the weather is even warmer, then they’ll be able to stay out in their field next to us as well.

Horse News

The humans have started the mammoth task of gently removing poo from little Fagan’s hair, to see what’s beneath. Although this isn’t painful (in fact grooming is actually rather enjoyable) it’s a new and potentially scary thing for any equine, and especially for him, considering what he has been through. The humans have spent time building up his trust before starting, to make the experience is as stress-free as possible.

Freddie is sometimes spending time in the arena with Fagan, so he gets use to having a friend, and, I have to say, Fagan does seem to like him a lot and follows Freddie everywhere. Every other day the humans also let Fagan come in my field, so he also starts to learn about how to behave as part of a herd. I’m bossing him about to make sure he knows I’m more important than he is. This is very good education for youngtsers. Because Fagan hasn’t had his little boys’ operation yet, Gypsy and Hope go into a different field or their stables when he is in with us.

The humans from the Parkhill Vets herd came and stabbed Fagan again – I heard someone say they were checking his blood. It seems this is still ‘not right’, so our humans are giving him special medicine for a while. I’m pretty sure, if he’s like me, he does have blood, so I’m not certain what they mean – apparently he’s ‘weak’ but, if you ask me, he’s definitely perked up a lot since he’s been here, I can tell you.

Hope has had a trip out in the horsebox to have something called an X-ray on her head! She’s had problems with her nose and the humans were worried there was something wrong with her sinuses. Fortunately this isn’t the case and she’s now on some medicine to help her. She was very, very brave. I have to confess to having my eye on that rather snazzy rug – do you think it’s a bit girly for me (and would I need leg-extnsions?) I’m also not sure I can afford to leave you, my public, on a trip out in order to get it – I’m very aware of my responsibilities.

Freddie has also been out, this time on a visit. Normally this would be Cloud, so I’m keeping an eye on this new development. When he came back he was very excited about how many pats and strokes he’d had. He’s eve been suggesting I might enjoy going on visits….does he not undertsand how important I am here?!!!

I still haven’t met the horse family who were rescued at Christmas, but I do know they’ve been relocated to a safe and secure field and now have a shelter. Both the youngster, Oskar (AKA Piper), and the Dad, Darcy, have had their little boys ops  and all three have been stabbed by the Parkhill Vets herd. Darcy had to go away for his operation as he’s an adult and it can be more risky – his family were so pleased when he came back. The next news about the family should be when Maya (aka Belle), the mare, has her foal in the next few weeks……..I’ll keep you posted.

We’ve had good news from Merlin, who’s been in his forever home with Briana for about 6 months now. He came to Hope Pastures as a stallion and was at the sanctuary for two years while the humans made him better and he learned how to behave properly with other ponies once he was a gelding. With Briana and her family he’s been in-hand shows and learned to be ridden and to be led from his companion horse, another spotty called Barley – it looks like he’s having a great time.



Talking of updates, we’ve also heard from Easter, who came to Hope Pastures three years ago as a one day old foal, having been rescued from the side of a motorway – that’s a big road, even bigger than the one that goes past our sanctuary. He must have been very scared. The humans spent a lot of time caring for him, otherwise he would have died. He started to think he was human, so they looked for a foster mum or a foal friend, but he didn’t find anyone he liked here (unlike Fagan with Freddie), so, once he was strong enough he went to Bransby Horses to play, learn and grow up with another foal of a similar age whom Bransby had rescued. Well, Easter has also now found his forever home and he has gone to live there with his friend Flossie.

Sanctuary News

No herds of fillies and colts, nor of adult humans this month, but a new rescue has appeared in one of the old stables. He could be a donkey, since he doesn’t seem to move much when he’s scared – he’s just completely wooden. Currently in quarantine, the humans say they’re rehabilitating him before the herds of small humans arrive again.

This month we had a visit from the team from Bramham Horse Trials, who have selected Hope Pastures as their Official Charity for 2017. This is a big event, so I know about it (though I’ve never been) and it’s a fantastic opportunity for the humans to earn lots of pony nut tokens – they say they have lots of exciting ideas planned and they’ll be taking the knitted ponies with them. Obviously, they’d like to have me there as well, but I have my responsibilities here.

The sanctuary has actually been inundated with herds and herds of knitted ponies. They’re arriving daily and seem to be settling in very well – I like them as they don’t eat my grass. Apparently the humans need as many as they can find – there’s even an on-site breeding programme on Wednesdays, where the humans meet up and make more knitted ponies.

My final news is that on World Sleep Day this month I was selected as one of 15 animals in a ‘collection of cuteness’. The people who selected me said they “scoured the internet for the cutest napping animals, and came across your adorable pic. It was impossible to ignore – so we’ve included it in our supercute sleeping animals list.” As you’d expect – not only famous and handsome, but also cute!

April sees the Final of the UK Blog Awards down in London. I can’t wait! I will be taking my new muffler with me, even though I haven’t actually braved trying it on yet. I can’t wait to update you about this next month.

Love Muffin xx

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for February

1st March?!! What happened to the rest of February? There’s barely been time for me to put my hooves up after my January Musings – I may have to make a call to Mule Line, due to my excessive workload. I have to confess to having been caught on the backhoof here (28 days!?), but don’t worry, my Musings will provide you with their usual thoughtful and erudite report on what’s been going on.

Two things to spot about my pic this month. 1. It’s muddy at the sanctuary right now……I really can’t wait for the grass to start growing again. The humans try hard with extra hay and feed, but I’m starting to dream about nuzzling luscious green shoots…………..

2. Recognising my extremely special status, the humans have made me my own ‘muffler’ – complete with a carrot fringe, would you believe!  The humans are so clever sometimes – not one of my pony friends (and not even the really bright donkeys) has ever made me anything like that. I wasn’t sure about it to start with, so I used Freddie as ‘Official Taster’ (he needed get ANY ideas about having this role for any other new items, such as grass or feed, though.) I have to say, he looked very smart in it – Cloud was obviously jealous. I’ve made sure the humans have folded it neatly and put it away safely, as I think it will be a wonderful addition to my outfit for the UK Blog Award presenation. More of this in later Musings…

Horse Update

I haven’t met them yet, as they live off-site in their own field (with grass, I hear!!) but I know the Horse Family would to thank you to everyone who donated to help them – you covered all the costs for their rescue last month, with the final ‘piece of the jigsaw’ (a shelter) put up a couple of weeks ago by a team of very handy volunteers (many of whom help out here at the sanctuary as well).

The latest newcomer to the sanctuary is a youngster called Fagan, who’s only 6-8 months old. He was abandoned in a field in North Yorkshire and left to fend for himself in feeezing cold conditions at the beginning of February. He ‘s very thin, so I’m not complaining about him eating lots of my food – he needs it.

He’s also disgustingly dirty, with a thick layer of dried-on filth. He’s in what the humans call ‘quarantine’ at the moment, which means I can’t speak to him or be close to him, but once he’s allowed out, the humans will give him a much needed clip and clean him up and he’ll have the chance to get to know me! He has truly landed on his hooves now, after such a bad start in life. I have heard that lots of humans have sent pony nut tokens for him – thank you, we’re all very grateful.


Cloud has been out and about again – this time to Farsley Farmers Market, where he made a lot of new human friends, as well as meeting some of the famous knitted ponies. I’m glad to see he kept the latter as far away from his yummy grass as possible. Looking at that, I might consider going out on visits myself if it means some extra green-stuff. Under NO circumstance, however, would you catch me wearing that black thing!

Sanctuary Update

The herds of human colts and fillies returned again this month and lots of my friends spent time with them, being brushed and generally pampered. My responsibilities to you, my public, mean I don’t have time to take part in this, but I know my friends enjoy it very much. We all love to see the sanctuary busy, but also like a good lie down and a few licks of (my) salt tick to relax at the end of day.

The humans put the big white flappy things up in my yard again and they were there for a whole 3 DAYS! You have no idea how scary they are. I was extremely brave and walked through them to get to my stable (and FOOD) every day. Apparently this was for something called a Tack Sale. I have no idea what that is, but thank heavens the humans didn’t leave all that lot in my yard when I went to bed! Coco and I stayed out of the way in our field – we had a lot of important hay-eating to do.

On the plus side, the humans say the day raised £2,000 of pony nut-tokens (happy tummy.)

Other kind people raising funds for pony nuts this month include the Pets at Home teams and customers at Kirkstall and Meanwood (who raised almost £1,800) and Harrogate Waitrose customers who voted for us to receive another £200.

A BIG thank you from my tummy to all of you as well.

Lisa from R&R Country came for a day with us here, helping the humans. She did all the usual yard tasks and spent time with Hannah Weston, from Connection Training, and India, from our yard team, training Rafael. I think she enjoyed herself as she’s written her own blog about the day. I have noted this and am keeping an eye out in case she fancies usurping my role from me!

Well, March heralds the start of Spring (according to the humans) and it can’t come too soon. Much as I love rolling in it, a mule cannot live by mud alone and I’m looking forward to seeing spiky little blades of grass poking out of the earth in the VERY near future. Till next month,

Love Muffin xx


Our New Rescue – A Joyful Eager Child

Meet our Most Recent Rescue

This poor young pony was cruelly abandoned in a field in North Yorkshire and left to fend for himself in feeezing cold conditions in the beginning of February.

He’s only a baby aged between 6-8 months old!

He is extremely underweight with a condition score of just 1 out of 5 and his hair really hides just how skeletal he really is – everyone who meets him is shocked and saddened at the horrific state he’s in.

He was discovered with a very thick layer of dried-on filth which shows that, wherever he has been kept before being dumped like a piece of rubbish, must have been a bleak and very disgusting place for any animal to live.

‘Fagan’ as he is named ( which means ‘Joyful’ in English and in Irish means ‘Eager Child’, which both describe him perfectly) has now been vet-checked and is full of energy, despite his ordeal.

Slowly we will gain his trust. We will give him a much needed clip and tidy up and his future will be full of love, care and appreciation for the gorgeous boy he is.

He’s still in isolation at the moment, so that we can limit the risk of disease transmission as much as possible, which means he’s not available to visit directly right now, but we hope he will be soon.

It’s only thanks to our absolutely dedicated and wonderful supporters, staff and volunteers that we were able to admit Fagan after nobody responded to the Abandonment Notice that was put on the gate of the field where he was so cruelly dumped.

We just absolutely dread to think of any other animals such as Fagan who are hidden in the dark, behind closed doors and in the most dire conditions. As the saying goes though, we can’t change the world for all animals but for each one we rescue the world changes for that animal.

It’s likely to cost us many hundreds of pounds to rehabilitate him over the next six months. Over his entire rehabilitation this could run into thousands, as it does with any ‘baby’ equine to whom we open our doors. Any donation to this little fella, no matter how small, will be gratefully received.

Welcome Fagan, from the dark into the light.

If you’d like to help Fagan, you can donate and your donation will be used to help rehabilitate and look after him. THANK YOU.

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for January

Sad, sad, sad news this month. Normally I can keep my spirits up, but this month we’ve had to say goodbye to one of my best and oldest (in both senses of the word) friends, Sparky, and I can’t tell you how much I miss him. It’s made me very grumpy. The first day he didn’t come out to my field, I started worrying that ALL my friends might leave me and I’d be completley alone. More grass for me, but who’d protect me from any lions wandering past? Fortunately, my other friends are still here and we’ve settled down again, but we all really miss him.

Sparky was over 30 and was always fit and well for his age and full of beans, so the humans were very worried when he went downhill overnight and losing him was a shock to us all.

I remember when he came to the sanctuary, over 8 years ago. He’d been  a much-loved children’s pony throughout his life, but had to move from home to home, as his children outgrew him. Listening to his story, I knew I’d been right not to let the humans try to ride me. He’d spent his life trying his heart out, behaving well, winning rosettes and trophies, only to end up on the scrap heap once he was ‘old’ and started to develop health problems. He was brought to Hope Pastures when he was found waiting for the meat man at a horse sales. Far from being retired here, he had a special role as a ‘Pony Day Pony’, taking part in grooming sessions on pony days and children’s parties. He adored being petted by so many tiny hands, and covered in ribbons. He was loved by everyone who met hime and he was probably the most popular pony in the whole of Leeds.

He was a very loyal friend and he would become very attached, especially to some of my girls,  whom he would sometimes claim as his own and refuse to share  (something I’m not missing.) Hope was his latest love and he wouldn’t rest until they were side by side. Because of his poor eyesight, though, he had some trouble finding her in my field, often trotting around neighing full volume until finally finding her a few feet from him which always made me chuckle. Sparky was a true gentleman and no-one will ever replace him. We’ll all remember him, though.

Other Horse & Sanctuary News

Little Sago is back with us and he’s now in my field. More worrying about my grass (though the humans are giving us hay in our fields as well as our stables now, so he can stay for a while.) At least it’s nice for Cloud to have someone his own size to nuzzle.

Elsie and Cherish have gone to their new foster home. The humans said they were super-good travelling and now they’re heads-down eating what looks like delicious grass. I do hope my public realise the sacrifices I make for them – if they didn’t need me here, all that grass could be mine!!

Cloud has attended his first event of 2017 – the Leeds Cross Country Varsity. It was a lovely day, though the runners actually claim to prefer ‘conditions’  – mud, we think………..I can see where they’re coming from, being covered in mud really helps keep the biting beasties away, as well as cleanse the skin (and there’s ‘nothing quite like it for cooling the blood’, apparently.)

Danny and Gypsy made it safely to their new home and have settled in brilliantly – they are so lucky to have found an amazing family. They were with us long enough for the humans to make sure they were happy and healthy before moving .

Two new small ponies (possibly even smaller than Cloud! I can’t really tell as they’re over the road – good job too, we don’t need ANY more ponies in my field) have come to stay for a little while with us. I’ve met one of them, Rodney, before and he’s brought his friend Fergus to stay as well.


Like the rest of my friends here, they have been enjoying some time play-fighting in the mud.

The BEST news is last – I have made it to the Final of the UK Blog Awards with these Musings!! I’m not surprised, to be honest, I put a lot of effort into them, but the humans say they’re stunned (thank you humans!!) I can’t wait to go to the presentation evening, as there’s FOOD (and fame!) promised.

No herds of humans to report on this month – I hope some come and plant some yummy saplings in my field VERY soon

Love Muffin xxx

A sad farewell to Sparky

A very sad post today, as we have to let you know that Sparky was put to sleep yesterday after a sudden illness.
Sparky was very fit and well for his age and always full of beans, so him going downhill so fast between tuesday and wednesday was a shock to us all, and quite unexpected.

Despite all the treatment and medication given by our brilliant vets, and special care and and supervision given by our dedicated staff, Sparky still continued to deteriorate and it was decided that the kindest thing was to say goodbye and let Sparky sleep.

Sparky was rescued by us over 8 years ago, with the heartbreaking and horrifying story of being a much loved children’s ridden pony throughout his life, only to be found waiting for the meat man at a horse sales.

Many ponies like Sparky are often sold on again and again because they become outgrown by children, and move from home to home, trying their heart out and behaving so well, winning rosettes and trophies, only to end up on the scrap heap once they develop health problems or become worn and tired.
Sadly for Sparky, he had been a children’s pony into his twenties and once he was outgrown was sold to keep another horse company. The trail then goes cold and we never found out how he ended up stood tied to a lorry at a horse market, dehydrated and very underweight, standing patiently all day with nothing to eat or drink, and resigned to his fate at the end of the day when he would be loaded on to the meat man’s wagon.
Fortunately we were able to negotiate his rescue and he came home on a wagon with us, to his final and true forever home.

We will always feel proud to know he has had the very best twilight years a pony could wish for!
The best food, clean warm stable of his very own lovingly kept immaculate daily by our staff and volunteers. The best and tastiest feed, specially chosen to help him manage to chew with the few teeth he had left.
A wardrobe of designer rugs which any pony would be jealous of, in all the cutest colours and shades.Only the best for a pony who had once been thought of as worthless, he deserved to be treated like a prince.
This was all only achieved with the help of you, our supporters who donate not only funds for vet care, but donate rugs, feed and equipment to enable all of it.

Sparky, far from being retired and no longer used, was given the special role as a ‘Pony Day Pony’ meaning that he took part in grooming sessions on our pony days and children’s parties.
He adored being petted all over by so many tiny hands, covered in ribbons and generally adored by hundreds of children and adults alike over the past 8 years. We could almost describe him as the most popular pony in the whole of Leeds!
He would often doze off in to pony dream land whilst being pampered, maybe daydreaming about his younger days when he was the apple of a little child’s eye and would get so much fuss and love before going to a show or on a ride.

We believe sparky was in his early 30’s and so must have had some stories to tell if he could have spoken.

Sparky was a very loyal friend and once he made a new pony pal he would become very attached, especially to the lady ponies in his paddock who he would claim as his own and refuse to share.
Not every girlfriend he had felt the same, and his most recent true love, Hope, tolerated him very well and we are sure will miss his undivided attention. He would never rest until they were side by side, but because of his poor eyesight he had some trouble finding her in the field, often trotting around neighing full volume until finally finding her, often not even very far from him which always made us chuckle.

Although Sparky has now gained his wings and gone trotting over rainbow bridge to join his old friends, he will be remembered every day of every year by all of the staff, volunteers, visitors, fundraisers and supporters as well as so many children who he made an impression on, he will live on in all our hearts.

Rest in peace Sparky and thank you for making us all so happy.

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for December

So excited – my Monthly Musings have been nominated for the UK Blog Awards 2017! Thank you to everyone who voted. I have all hooves crossed that I make it to the Final…….there’s a Gala dinner (fame AND food!!) so I’ve already organised the humans to spend extra time brushing my coat, just in case. Now I’m such a media star, you’ll note that I’m happy to share my limelight with Coco this month (TBH, I did actually pick this pic because I look particularly handsome in it, but at least I didn’t crop Coco out!) Thanks to Liz Russell Photography for capturing me looking gorgeous.

Horse & Sanctuary News

The biggest news this month should really be Christmas, which was amazing. We’ve had some wonderful pressies – thank you to everyone who sent hay, carrots and salt licks in particular. My faves!! We even had a stable-load of gifts only yesterday from the Medical Records Team at Pinderfields Hospital. I hope this bodes well for 2017….

I know many of you have adopted my friends and me or have been given adoptions for Christmas. That’s such a relief as it means the humans can buy me food – I’m on my best behaviour waiting to meet you all to thank you.

The sanctuary’s been really busy – we even had visitors on Christmas Day. I totally understand you guys couldn’t stay away from me for a whole day (!) and I made sure everyone got up extra-early to be ready to greet you.

The best news, though, is actually that you, our supporters, have saved a whole horse family (a foal, his mum and dad), who were being evicted from their home in Leeds, just before Christmas. So many of you donated that this family is now safe and have a future. You can find out more about them here. I haven’t met them yet and the humans say they’re going to live in a separate field for now (phew – there’s more than enough equines eating my grass here) but I hope to get to meet them next year.

We’ve also had two other new ponies, Danny and Gypsy, come to stay at the sanctuary. They already have a new forever home, but need time to rehabilitate, so the humans have taken them in here and they’ll be going to their new home very shortly. This is just as well, since two Gypsys would be very confusing.

Cloud has been super-busy throughout the whole of December in his role as ‘reinpony. Not only does he have to help Santa out on the night of the 24th, but he has to visit lots of places. His diary is so busy that he’s been training Hope as well and she’s really settled in to the role of elf.

Merlin, Jester and Storm have all gone to new homes. Merlin has found his ‘forever home’ with a new friend and family – the best Christmas present he could have. Jester and Storm are spending time at a foster home, continuing their clicker training. I am tempted by this myself, since this seems to involve food, but obviously I couldn’t desert my duties here.

Polly and Bella have returned from their home as Polly has laminitis and her family don’t have a stable to keep her in to stop her eating grass. You wouldn’t think grass would be a problem at this time of year, but it seems it is, especially when there’s been a frost. I have to say it does taste more yummy when it’s frozen (!)

Snoopy has been on stable rest while his hoof has been treated. He’s been rather bored (we all hate stable rest!) but the humans have been keeping him occupied.

I’m afraid that’s it for now – it’s just a short Musing this month, as I’m now busy preparing for tomorrow. A very Happy New Year to you all – I hope to see you in 2017. Love Muffin xx


Managing Winter Weight Loss for Horses and Ponies with Cushing’s Syndrome

Many of our older ponies at Hope Pastures have Cushing’s Syndrome, including the lovely Gypsy, our pony ambassador. There’s a lot of research work being undertaken on Cushing’s right now and we’re constantly able to improve how we manage it, working closely with our vets, farriers and feed partners to ensure our ponies have the best quality of life. This is especially true at this time of year, since feeding a pony with Cushing’s becomes a balancing act between avoiding winter weight loss and also avoiding laminitis.

Cushing’s Syndrome, or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID) is a condition involving the pituitary gland. In affected horses the ‘pars intermedia’ or ‘middle lobe’ of the pituitary gland becomes hyperactive (and often enlarged), secreting large amounts of several hormones including ACTH (adrenocortitropin hormone). How this increase in hormones results in the clinical signs of Cushing’s is still not fully understood.

Fortunately, although Cushing’s in horses is incurable, it is manageable.  With suitable management and veterinary treatment, horses and ponies with Cushing’s can continue to live happy and active lives for many years.

During the winter, weight loss can be a common issue for any horse but the increased risk of laminitis can make choosing feed for a Cushingoid horse or a pony a daunting prospect. Here a few tips:

  • Body condition score your horse or pony regularly to help monitor any changes and address any weight loss or gain as they occur.
  • Horses and ponies with Cushing’s need similar management to a laminitic. This means providing a diet that is high in fibre and low in starch and sugars, including fructan, the storage form of sugar in grass.
  • Forage should ideally be fed ad-lib and provides a valuable source of calories. However it can also be high in water soluble carbohydrate (WSC = sugar + fructan). Consider feeding soaked hay, a hay replacer or having your forage analysed.
  • Cereals grains are high in starch so avoid mixes and other cereal based feeds.
  • Choose fibre based feeds that if necessary, are also high in oil. Oil is high in energy (calories) but starch free, providing a sympathetic alternative to cereals.
  • Vegetable, corn or soya oil can be added directly to your horse’s feed at a rate of up to 100ml per 100kg of bodyweight per day. However this needs to be balanced by ensuring the diet provides an additional 100iu of vitamin E for every 100mls of oil added – speak to a
  • Be wary of over restricting calories in a bid to avert laminitic episodes. The winter calorie deficit can be counteracted with the provision of additional calories as long as they come from a suitable source.
  • Make any changes to your horse’s diet gradually and if increasing volumes to deliver additional calories, ensure that you don’t over-burden a horse’s sensitive digestive system. Although horses evolved to spend 16-18 hours grazing, they have small stomachs and should not be given more than 2kg of feed in any meal, less for ponies.

Muffin’s Monthly Musings for November

How handsome? No need to answer – it’ll just embarass the donkeys. Good view of my rather smart whiskers, don’t you think? Top marks to the humans for being artistic, though I know you’ll be missing seeing my full glory. One slight concern TBH – I’m not sure whether it was cold when this pic was taken, or if I’m breathing out smoke – half donkey, half pony is great, but half dragon? (Can I even have another half of me that’s a dragon?)

Horse News

dec-mudlily-mudWet, wet, wet start to my Musings this month; equals mud, mud, mud at the sanctuary. This means the humans don’t put us into some of the fields now, but mine is fine – I hope they don’t start to let more of my friends in here, I need all the grass I can get! Lily has been enjoying the chance to improve her skin with her annual Hope Pastures’ mud bath. The humans were very pleased about this.

Anyone noticed how dark it’s become for most of the day now? This happens every year here, when it starts to get wet and really cold as well. I suspect humans don’t like the dark, since they always have a week where some of them explode lots of tiny stars in the sky – very scary, noisy and also rather smelly for us. Fortunately, we’ve trained our humans to always make sure we’re safe in our stables for this.

winter-2016Thankfully, the wet and mud has now turned to cold and bright and we all feel a lot happier. I’ve been growing my Winter coat especially for these days and very good it is, too, might I say. No rugs for me! It does make me extra-fluffy to stroke, though, so you might want to come and warm your hands on me if I’m near the fence when you’re next here.

Much of the news this month is actually DONKEY news! I hope they don’t get too full of themselves.




Coco and Banjo went to the horse hospital, Rainbow Equine, at the start of this moth. Coco had a nasty sarcoid (skin growth) on his leg whicb had to be removed and, very sensibly, he took his best buddy Banjo with him, to hold his hoof. They went in our normal big metal box, but came back in another one, as ours was broken. We’re so grateful to the humans, Annie and Tony, for bringing them home and to MY human, Sue, for going to help – even though they do eat my grass, I missed them a lot.

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Conker and Eeyore have gone to a new home at the Scottish Borders Donkey Sanctuary. I wondered why the humans had been spending so much time playing with them in the big metal box. I’ve known them for six months now and they’re particularly sensitive and nervous. My humans have worked very hard helping them become healthly, happy and confident, but their sensitive natures means they need humans like mine, who know about how to look after donkeys (apparently donkeys really ARE different), so they’ve gone to live with 84 other donkeys, who roam over 85 acres of land in a beautiful location – sounds amazing! If I didn’t have my responsibilities here…….

Other horse news – 9 of my friends are still searching for forever homes. If you’re looking for a new horse or pony, please talk to our humans first – my friends would love to have their own families.

Sanctuary News

Wow, wow, wow, look what arrived this week – a HUGE thank you to Horseware for sending us all these lovely new rugs – they will be fantastic for my friends, some of whom are already looking snug and warm in them. What a very generous donation and sooooo smart – I might try shivering to see if I can get one of these for myself.


The Horseware Boxes!


Sparky & His New Rug


Very Smart Henry


Paddy Modelling






Thank you also to everyone who came to the Charity Auction and the Christmas Sale which our humans organised this month. The two events raised over £2,500 for my Winter feed (a great concern for everyone here.) Many of you also donated to our #GivingTuesday Winter Appeal.This raised a further £1,500 for my fodder………my tummy’s starting to feel a lot happier about Winter now! Thank you.

Pure Feeds have kindly given the sanctuary 240 bags of Christmas horse treats. Apparently they’re not all for us (how disappointing) – the humans are taking them out to horsey events to raise money for more hay for my friends and me. On balance, I guess I that’s sensible – a mule cannot live by treats alone. If you see the humans, make sure you buy your pony a bag, they’re yummy.

No herds of foals this month, but still several herds of fully-grown humans have been coming to continue to make the sanctary look very smart and keep it well-maintained and weatherproof. A big thank you to the (hardy!) teams from Yorkshire Building Society and Lloyds Bank for their help.

It’s ‘that time of the year’ again – the humans are starting to add twinkling stars to trees and in their stables. That usually means Cloud has to go out a lot in the metal box, usually wearing glittery stuff and a pair of antlers. No doubt I’ll be reporting on his adventures in next month’s Musing.

Keep warm (grow a thick coat!) Love Muffin xx


Muffin’s Monthly Musings for October

So, who’s painted the trees to match me? Good job – although you’ve missed my white bits, the general brown-look is great. A conker-coloured mule the humans say – more like mule-coloured conkers, if you ask me.

My pony friends (not the donkeys) and I have been growing our winter coats ready for the cold weather, which we know is on it’s way……..not sure when TBH, since it’s still surprisingly warm in my field and I have to confess to being somewhat over-dressed currently. The humans are all out of rhythm as well, since they’ve started their habit of tucking us up in our stables at night again now it gets dark so early. I suspect they just want me to have my own hay – I always have to share it with my friends if we stay out in my field.

The donkeys, being odd (“we’re designed for hot countries, don’t you know”), only change their coats once a year, in Summer (!) This could be very confusing for me, being half donkey, but I’m a Yorkshiremule through and through, so twice-annual coat changing is normal for me. This is good news for my public in Winter, since it means I’ll be out to see you all when you visit, no matter what the weather.

Horse News


Fantatsic result this month – Revel has found a new home. We’re all so pleased for her. The humans spent some time with her before she left us, going in and out of a large box with her. Then some other humans came and she went away in their large box, pulled by one of the metal things which eat the humans. Fortunately she’s sent us some pics of her at her new home and with her new friend, so we know the large box didn’t eat her!

mmm-oct-8Someone else who’s sent us some pics from their forever home is Little George – this is him foraging for herbs. George came to Hope Pastures about 8 years ago and the humans say he was one of the most challenging and damaged ponies they’ve ever rescued. Luckily for him he found the perfect home, where he lives very much a natural life with a herd of other ponies. His massive area of land has streams, woodland, hills and lakes to wander around, acres of varied terrain and an absolutely beautiful view (as well as lots of goodies to eat – I’m rather jealous, but I have responsibilities here….)

Back at the sanctuary –

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I may have previously mentioned the people from Parkhill Vets who come and look at my friends and me frequently. They swap which of us they want to meet, which is good, since their greeting is often a stab with a sharp stick – not something we equines usually use (a neigh, bray or neighore, with some snorting is fine for us.) This week one of them came and decided to put his whole hand and part of his arm in some of my young friends’ mouths, checking and improving their teeth. This has happened to me, but it’s new to the youngsters, Storm, Jester, Jack and Flint, who were all surprisingly well behaved. They’re young and in training and the humans say making sure their teeth are in good order prevents any problems inn their mouths leading to any behavioural issues, such as being head shy.

The Parkhill Vets’ human was very busy that day – Storm also had his little boy’s operation; Tina, Pearl, Gypsy and Sparky all had their blood taken to check for Cushings (which is something which can affect the ‘older equine’) and Elsie Lenny and Milo had their annual vaccination. Not bad for a mornings work – I hope he went back to rest in his own a lovely warm stable!

Sanctuary News

The herds of humans keep coming – I’m starting to worry they might begin to repair or paint me soon, the sanctuary’s looking so neat and tidy. They’ve really done an amazing job. I’ve noticed there’s a new fenced-off section which looks like it will have a new hedge in it. At the moment it’s over the walkway from me, but I’m pondering how to make the humans move me over there – young tree shoots are sooooo delicious. We had new trees put in as part of a hedge in my field last year, but for some reason, after we’d had a couple of days of nibbling the new plantings, the humans put electric tape round them so we couldn’t reach them. What was the point of that!!??


A Herd of Small Humans on a Pony Day

This week we’ve also had herds of fillies and colts visiting us. Some stay all day and help to look after us, cleaning out our stables (I hope they share the honour of doing mine – it would be unfair if only one person were lucky enough to do it) and brushing us. They seem to have lots of fun and we enjoy meeting them.

Earlier this month the big white flappy things were out again and lots of humans came in their metal boxes to see us. I’m told this was the Autumn Fayre – the sanctuary was certainly busy. More importantly, I’m told this helped to raise over £3,000 to pay for my pony nuts and hay over Winter – my tummy sends lots of thanks for this.


Yummies from Moorlands Harvest Festival

My tummy also wants me to thank the chidren from Moorlands School, who donated apples and carrots for us at their Harvest Festival. Wow….. I suspect I’ll have to share some of those with my friends.

Finally, thanks also to:


My Astley Riding Centre Friends and Their Humans

  • My friends at Astley Riding Centre. Their humans rode and worked in Onsies to raise money for my dinner, and gave us an amazing £1,500 (!) The most amazing thing, though, is how calm my pony friends there were, despite their humans looking VERY odd.
  • Hannah Broderick and her team and all my friends who attended the Hollingley Farm Charity Ride – they raised another £450 for my Winter sustenance.

Riding on the Hollingley Farm Ride

I’m hoping my tummy’s going to be VERY full this Winter!

Love Muffin xx



Rescued & Re-homed

Fab day yesterday meeting Rescued & Re-homed Series Champions, Marnie and Debbie, to present their prizes, sash and rozzies, with Lisa from R & R Country, Rosemary from Sculpture to Wear, Georgina from Global Herbs Ltd and Philip from Paintings with Essence, 3 of our very generous sponsors for 2016. MASSIVE THANKS to them and all our sponsors, including Horseware, Rosettes Direct and Animology.

Thanks also to Rosemary and our other judges – Natalie Duddy from Hutchison, Dunlop & Baird Parkhill Veterinary Surgery, Sophie Kendrick from Hope Pastures, Louise Kittle from Horse&Rider Magazine, Askham Bryan College and Heather Bennett Para Dressage.

Our biggest THANKYOU, though is TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK PART – your stories are all amazing and we’re humbled by what you’ve achieved. Rozzies and prizes will be on their way to all entered finalists shortly xxxx

Thanks to our sponsors: R & R Country, Sculpture to Wear, Global Herbs Ltd, Paintings with Essence, Animology and Rosettes Direct AND thanks to our judges: Rosemary Hetherington, Sophie Kendrickfrom Hope Pastures, Natalie Duddy from Hutchison, Dunlop & Baird Parkhill Veterinary Surgery, Louise Kittle from PONY Mag, Askham Bryan College and Heather Bennett Para Dressage. Without you the Series couldn’t happen.


Amazing teams

Some amazing teams have been busy raising money for Hope Pastures this Summer. Today we received £556.38 from Pets at home Meanwood and £368.38 from Stairfoot Pets at Home, raised as part of the Support Adoption For Pets and Pets at Home #KeepingCool campaign this Summer.
Hannah Broderick and the Hollingley Farm Charity Ride have just sent us £425 raised at the ride earlier this month.
FANTASTIC TIMING teams – just as we come into the really expensive time of year.

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