• Kathryn Hulland

My life experience with animals

I have always had animals in my life and grew up with cats, life is not the same without a cat - I am without as Magic Poodle wouldn't be keen! My first pet was a goldfish won at the fair - Tim! Budgies, other aviary birds, hamsters, rats, mice, lizards, more cats, stick insects, dogs and of course horses followed over the years. My poor parents I was never happy, the goldfish needed a bigger tank and friends and so I was allowed an aquarium, Drake the budgie was lonely and so 2 friends and a bigger cage were bought, still not good enough I insisted they needed more space and an aviary was built in the back garden; my hamster was lonely so my friend's hamster paid her a visit - a few weeks later she had 9 baby friends (my parents had no idea), I hated my rat being in a cage and so Jafr had the run of my room and often the house. And so from a young age I have felt very empathetic towards animals and their needs.

I have always had horses in my life and despite not being able to afford my own when growing up I was up at a yard every weekend and all school holidays mucking out, feeding and riding whoever was available. It wasn't a riding school as such, a livery yard where my mum's friend taught a few kids on their ponies kept there, and some on her ponies. It was a great place to be and we truly mucked in from shovelling the muck heap to creosoting the fences, such invaluable experience. It also resulted in me being around and riding a real variety of horses. When I left school I went to a racing yard in Newmarket employed as an apprentice jockey. I only lasted a few months, it was hell and when I look back I realise just how awful the lives for those horses I worked with were, however that experience gave me invaluable insight into the workings of a racing yard and the industry.

I went on to own my own horses, my first a permanent loan called Dollar who was a very cheeky Welsh Section D gelding who sadly passed due to colic.

​Next came Tigger and you can read all about him here - my pony of a lifetime!

​I helped to set up and run the Dartmoor Pony Training Centre, we took on unsold Dartmoor Hill Ponies & handled them before finding them long term homes. I learned so much from these ponies, it is an honour to work with feral ponies and feel that raw untouched energy, it's something very special. We took on unhandled ponies of all ages as well as those handled needing homes and some that had gone to homes who thought they knew how to train a feral pony, but didn't. These were often the ones that took longer to trust as they now had lots of prior opinions on us humans! You can read more about the DPTC and the work we did in my blog. The first post is here Dartmoor Pony Training Centre - The Beginnings.

I ended up with 5 horses and ponies at one point whilst running the rescue centre! Tigger, Snoopy & Ebony all Dartmoor Hill Ponies, Lily a Welsh Section D mare who I went on a laminitis journey with and Troy, an 18.2hh dressage horse who had been left to rot in a field with a fractured pelvis, myself and a friend bought him, helped him back to full fitness and re-homed him.​

I am currently very lucky to be owned by a Standard Poodle, Magic. He came from ARC Rescue Centre a few years ago and is very bouncy!

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