Horse & Pony Aug-Oct 2018

Being useful

    I’ve accidentally put our resident pygmy goats to work. They served no obvious purpose (besides entertainment) until this spring when I bought a roll of electric livestock netting and fenced them in an overgrown area behind the barn, mostly to keep them out of my flower gardens and strawberry patch. I discovered quickly that goats really, REALLY like to eat goutweed and a host of other fast growing weeds. The trickier the lay of the land the better the goats like it. Bring on the banks and ditches.
    If you don’t know what goutweed is, you’re lucky. If you do, then you may have already dropped this magazine and are right now on the internet searching for four-legged whipper snippers.
    You see, goutweed – named for its medicinal properties in treating gout of the rheumatic (not the four legged) kind – is the stuff that keeps afflicted property owners awake at night. If you live on an old farm then you’re likely feeling my pain. No doubt a good intentioned soul brought a little bit of this seemingly innocent and pretty (eye roll) greenery home to brighten up the yard. Big mistake.
    Pets morphing into useful working animals (even if “work” consists only of eating) is a novel idea. The word “useful” covers a lot of ground. For example, we horse people would argue that having a good horse is useful for stress relief and exercise. That’s more of a modern, New Age take on the word.
    There are horses that still fit the more traditional meaning, doing work that doesn’t consist solely of eating. Jake MacDougall is banking on it (as seen on the cover). The busy young farmer took a break from working his decidedly serviceable team of horses to talk with Judith Scrimger for “From farm to table: Callie and Rowdy work the land at MacDougall Meadows.” The Joyriders Therapeutic Riding Association of P.E.I. also has horses doing important work. Nicole Kitchener brings us the story of a group of miniatures making a big difference. And how about the Newfoundland Pony? They were instrumental to human survival on the island for hundreds of years until their usefulness was replaced. A chilling “use it or lose it” tale. Alison King has the story of one man’s quest to rescue this critically endangered breed, one foal at a time.
    Nicole Kitchener has a rescue story of a more immediate sort. She caught up with a few New Brunswick horse owners who were impacted by the brutal and damaging spring flood of 2018 in “Fast and furious: New Brunswick horse owners cope with record flooding.” It’s a full issue, with something for everyone no matter your discipline.
    Before I sign off, I’d like to welcome new report writers Jen Macpherson and Nicole Kitchener, and send out sincere thanks to Carolyn Wanamaker and Jana Hemphill for their invaluable contributions to HP over the years. Best wishes go out to regular photography contributor Leona Nielsen-Hennebury as she recovers from surgery. I’m looking forward to seeing this lovely lady back in action. 
    So take a break from being you-know-what and enjoy summer and the August-October issue of HP. I’m off to move my fence again. Useful pets are a lot of work.