NEWS – History archive 2009

16 December 2009

Further suspicious activity

"I just thought I had best let everyone know there has also been an instance in Yorkley around Danby Lodge/Danby Cottages.  My two horses both had what I would call tangles rather than plaits, but another person's horse further up the lane had a definite plait in one of her horse's mane.  Both myself and the other person have notified horsewatch.  These instances were in the last couple of weeks, and all the horses are safe. 
As I said I think my horses had tangles rather than plaits but I did report because of the other instance in the area. "

15 December 2009

More suspicious plaiting

"Just thought I would let you know that my gelding has had a plait put in his mane sometime last night or this morning ( it was dark when I fed them this morning so didn't notice). 
I have reported it to the police incident number 294 of 14-12-09 as I have recently received emails saying that this is a way of identifying them to be stolen.
The Police informed me that there is currently a Red Transit Van acting suspiciously around horses in the area and it was sighted in Bream today.  (sorry I don't know reg yet)
They didn't plait my mares mane but then she is very very old now and this is obvious by all her grey hairs.
They are currently out in the field at our new house in Christchurch, just off Park Rd, Berry Hill."

15 November 2009

Over the past few weeks we have received a number of emails concerning horses who have been found by their owners with a single plait in their mane.  It is is a possibility that this could be being done to identify a specific horse for someone to come along at a later time and steal it.  Think about it, if a horse is happy for you to approach it, probably in the dark, and let you put a plait in it's mane then chances are it will also let you approach it later on to put a headcollar on and lead it out of a field and into waiting transport.

The message we have received below indicates that this is what has happened and this particular incident has been confirmed to me by local police.

Subject: Stolen horse. 
"On Monday (2 Nov) night my friend’s horse was stolen from a field in the Guildford area. The people who took her sawed through a wooden post and rail fence to get out and this happened between 3pm and 6pm in the afternoon.
The police were informed and so were the microchip company who circulated her details to all the ferry ports etc. As you can imagine the owner was completely distraught.

Late Tuesday (3 Nov) afternoon she received a phone call from the police to say her horse had been found in Hollyhead, Wales. She was tied to a railing at the ferry port and the ferry to Ireland had gone without her. 

Several things have come to light in this story:
1. A week ago her horse had a small plait in its mane when she went to get her in from the field. She describes it as very small, almost like a tangle. She disregarded it as kids messing about (her horses are out in a field with others). However, this is how people mark horses to be stolen later. Ie. One person marks them, another then comes later and knows which one to take.

2. The ferry port at Hollyhead do not check horses passports or microchips. This horse was travelling without a passport.

3. The police believe the reason this horse was left behind was because she was microchipped. Although the UK is lax about passport and microchip checking, it is apparently more common for horses to be scanned on entering Ireland. The people who take them will scan them and dump them if they find a microchip. This horse also had a large obvious scar so this may have been a contributing factor.
The police told her that horses being dumped at a ferry terminal is not uncommon and they usually turn out to be stolen. They have had horses left in a lorry on the actually ferry!

This story has a happy ending for H and E, but it makes you wonder how many other stolen horses were on that ferry to Ireland.

1. If you find your horse with a small plait in its mane or tail please do not ignore it. I thought it was common knowledge that people knew about this, but several people I've spoken to since were not aware of it.
2. If your horse isn’t microchipped please consider doing it. The owner of this horse describes her as ‘nothing flashy, just a normal 14.2 bay mare’ so please don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.

Once again, can we ask you to please look at your own security arrangements.  Some horses are kept in remote locations which does not necesarily mean that they are harder to find but can also mean that they are easier to steal as there may be no one around to report any suspicious activity.  Regardless of where you keep your horse, please check them on a regular basis and the Police suggest that if you can check your horses at different times this might also help. 

Please make sure your horse has some form of identification.  Freezebranding is a clearly visible mark and deterent.  If your horse is not freezemarked or microchipped, please don't wait until next week, next month, next year - get it done now. 

Take photographs of your horse.  At least one from each side, front and back.  If your horse was stolen these could be useful to post on websites etc.

If you did not have the key to the gate on your field, how easy would it be for you to get your horse out of the field?  If your gate is padlocked could it be taken off at the hinges?  There are gate hinges on the market which can be fitted to make this much harder.  Having proper hinges and padlocks fitted to your gates will not necessarily stop the most determined thief but it will make it harder and more importantly more time consuming for them which in turn leads to a greater risk of them being spotted.  If you could get your horse out quickly, then so could a thief.

Freezebranding, new gate hinges, padlocks, chains all cost money but this would be a small and worthwhile investment compared to the cost you would experience, both financially and emotionally if YOUR horse was stolen.


October 2009


Paula Burrows, the new marketing manager for the FODDC, has requested a meeting with Jenny Carling to discuss the tourism implications of the possible development of a linked network of bridleways. Paula and Jenny plan to meet on Friday 16 October to talk about this project proposal

Boar Survey

Have you met the boar when out riding? Just to let you know that the University of Worcester are running a boar survey for the Forest of Dean –

Go on line to for questionnaire!


Developing Bridleway Network

Jenny Carling is working with the FODDC to use some of the European funding they have been given for community projects in the district. The goal of the  bridleways association is to provide a series of linked circular rides/carriage drives throughout the area and free to users. The project, if funded, will take about 4-5 years to put in place and will enable riders to go from Dymock in the north of the district to Tidenham in the south using a mixture of quiet lanes, forestry commission tracks, public bridleways (including new ones to be created) and unused railway tracks.




September 2009

Free access to Forestry Commission Forests in England

While equestrians have free access to many forests in England, there are a growing number where you are required to buy a permit to ride or carriage drive in them. As an Association we have always argued that all users should be treated on an equal footing and where informal access is provided free for walkers and cyclists it should also be provided free for equestrians.

Responses to the FC consultation document  on “The long-term role of the public forest estate in England” should be made by the 28 September 2009 to Dominic Driver, Senior Projects Officer, Policy and Programmes Group, Forestry Commission, 620 Bristol Park, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1EJ. It would be very beneficial if all members would take a few minutes to write with their comments and we would suggest the following points to include in your letter:

Do not sit back and think that “I don’t have to pay now so it doesn’t affect me” – the situation could change very quickly and not in equestrians’ favour. In all our discussions with the FC the issue of maintenance always arises, and, in the case of Dymock Forest locally, was directly linked to charging for use of the tracks. The fact that the money was almost impossible to collect and did not raise sufficient funds to repair tracks did not stop its imposition until recently following strong arguments from this Association on equality for all forest users.

If you’re not a “writer” then you could download a postcard from the BHS website to send to the Forestry Commission showing your support for equestrian access. Given the large area of land owned or managed by the FC in our area then it should be most important for us all to show that we value and want to maintain our free access to the forests.


August 2009

There is a new resident in the Forest who is looking for a horse to ride. She has 25 years of experience and is capable of riding any type of horse. She is based in Mitcheldean and looks forward to any contact. email

July 2009

Our dear government wish to tax us for owning horses and it will cost at least £10 per horse, so there has been a petition set up and it would be good if we could all sign it.  Please pass it on to other people you know and get them to sign too.


The Railway Path

What is being proposed?

An exciting proposal for a traffic-free path for walkers, cyclists, people with disabilities and horse riders will be re-submitted, by Sustrans, for planning approval late 2009.

The path will follow the disused 19th Century Wye Valley Railway line between Chepstow, Brockweir and Tintern.

For up to date information on the planning application by Sustrans to develop the disused railway line running south from Brockweir visit


June 2009

Creating new rights of way for equestrians - a new approach

Two members of our committee attended a seminar organised by The Trails Trust - a charity whose sole aim is to create a network of bridleways - at which we learnt about the weighty subject of "Express Dedication at Common Law"!

The good news is that this approach is less confrontational than seeking changes to the Definitive Map and best of all can take just a matter of months rather than years! Also the approach has the support of Defra and is not dependent on local authorities where most of the bottlenecks happen at the moment.

If you would like to know more then please contact Jenny Carling via email -


May 2009

A foster mare is urgently required for a dales foal rejected by its mum who is only two weeks old. We need a mum who has just lost her own foal. Any news of one ?  native breed preferred !

Contact Jan at

April 2009

Press Release

Pylon Track

Horse riders and the Forestry Commission….working together

With the agreement of the Forestry Commission, a few members of the FOD Horse Riders & Carriage Drivers Association, started by hand to clear the track known locally in the Yorkley area, as the Pylons Track.  This long track was almost lost due to the overgrowth of brambles, bracken and overhanging branches.  The members did what they could in several sessions, but it was clear that a machine was needed to tackle the bulk of the work.  The FC gave permission for one of their contractors, John Reed of Blakeney, to do the work.  Enough money was raised last year by the association, at a tabletop sale and raffle held at The Speech House Pavilion, to pay for two day’s work.  This work was carried out recently.

The Pylons track is now wide and clear and can be enjoyed by both walkers and horse riders.  It is hoped to be able to maintain this track yearly, but more funds will have to be raised to do this.  If you ride a horse in this area, or are interested in maintaining our beautiful countryside, please support the Association by joining. 

Our aim is to gain better access for equestrians throughout the Forest of Dean district by opening up old routes and linking present ones to provide safe off-road riding and carriage driving opportunities. 

A pack of information has been produced by the FOD District Council with help from the Forestry Commission and ourselves on horse riding and carriage driving circuits throughout the district. All of the 6 laminated route maps are presented in a pocket-sized folder and designed to hang on a personal neck ribbon for easy access. On one side of the map is a drawing of the route (which can be checked against the OS map) and on the other text details to help you find your way around. Copies of the pack can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre in Coleford, Tel: 01594 812388. Cost will be about £4.00 per pack.

The association has also been working closely with recreational groups such as walkers and cyclists to develop accessibility for all users.

More information about the FOD Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers Association can be obtained by visiting, telephone 01594 510435 or email

Pylon Track

Pylon Track clearing




The British Horse Society & SEIB Breeding Education Day
Saturday 2 May 2009 at Hartpury College, Gloucester

Are you considering breeding a foal? This unique event is aimed at all with an interest in breeding, and will provide essential information on every aspect from selection of the mare and stallion to handling and training the foal The event features a day of talks and practical demonstrations from the UK’s leading experts, including:

Richard Maxwell – one of the UK’s leading horse behaviourists & trainers
Tim Galer BVet Med Cert ESM MRCVS – Equine Stud Medicine specialist
Nic de Brauwere BVSc MRCVS – SeniorWelfare Veterinary Surgeon, Redwings Horse Sanctuary World HorseWelfare

Limited tickets on sale NOW at just £5

01926 707791



March 2009

AGM News

Members and friends present at the AGM commented favourable on the pack of information that has been produced by the Forest of Dean District Council with help from the Forestry Commission and ourselves on horse riding and carriage driving circuits throughout the district. All of the 6 laminated maps are presented in a pocket sized folder and are designed to be hung on a personal neck ribbon for easy access. On one side of the map is a drawing of the route (which can be checked against the OS map) and on the other text details to help you find your way around. Copies of the pack can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre tel 01594 812388. Cost will be about £4.00 per pack


Annual General Meeting


Thursday, 19th March 2009 at 6.30 pm


The Speech House Hotel Pavilion (by kind permission of Dorian Charlton)

(parking in Hotel field)

Come and join us for an evening of bacon butties and hotdogs and a chat with other like minded people. Use the time to network with other riders/carriage drivers and committee members and explore the digital mapping software we are using.


February 2009

Molly, the three legged horse

A survival story


Meet Molly.She's a grey speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when
Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana . She spent weeks on her own before
finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were
stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost
died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU
for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You
know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind.He saw how the
pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get
sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.She protected her injured
leg. She constantly shifted her weight and didn't overload her good leg. She
was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial
limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The photo shows the ground
surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever
Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind.

The leg

'This was the right horse and the right owner,' Moore insists. Molly
happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as nails, but sweet,
and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood
that she was in trouble.The other important factor, according to Moore , is
having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing
the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana .The
little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb. A human
prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's
regular vet, reports.

Fitted leg

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and
let you know that she wants you to put it on.. Sometimes she wants you to
take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. 'It can be pretty bad
when you can't catch a three-legged horse,' she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner,
started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and
rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went,
she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time
doing it.

'It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life, Moore
said. She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now
she is giving hope to others.'

Barca concluded, 'She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better.To
me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.'

January 2009 Newsletter

WELCOME to the latest edition of our newsletter.


The demise of the Discovering Lost Ways Project (which didn’t add any further equestrian rights of way to the Definitive Map) was a blow for all equestrians; it would have meant the recording of many historic routes that somehow have been “lost” when the Definitive Map was created. So it is now down to all of us to ensure that all those rides and carriage drives that we enjoy are recorded for future permanent use. If you use a route that does not appear on the current map, and you do not have the express permission of the landowner to use it, then members of the committee can advise you on the action you need to take.

Please do not be one of those people who think “Someone else will do it” ……..



Can you help? It is recognised that current strategies to control intestinal parasites in horses is not sustainable. This is because of the increasing resistance to pharmaceutical wormers. A key issue is that little is known about how we worm our horses. So an online survey is being carried out by the University of Reading. You can take part by logging on to and completing the short and anonymous questionnaire.

Habitat/nature conservation: Are there any locations in your area where existing access to horse riders or carriage drivers has been denied or made more difficult for habitat/conservation reasons? If so, you can email information to or write to us and we will pass on to the BHS. The BHS will then be able to build up a picture regarding the extent of exclusions to present to Natural England in their argument for better horse riding and driving opportunities.



Hi-Viz clothing:  Do you wear such clothing when out riding – especially when out riding alone? Last summer a helicopter pilot was tasked with searching for a missing horse rider. Soon after 10.40 the horse was located and ground police officers were talked to the location. The rider was said to be wearing a white top and her usual riding route was found out from the farm where she kept her horse. By now it was 14.15 but the rider had not been found by police searching the ground.

After a further 30 minutes of finding swans, carrier bags and fertiliser sacks in the hedgerows the helicopter crew spotted what was thought to be a cattle trough in the middle of a field. Closer inspection revealed that it was the missing rider who had been lying injured on the ground for almost four and a half hours. Her clothing was brown and with black boots she had been well hidden in the long grass.

It transpired that one of the officers searching for her on the ground had been into the field but had not seen her due to the lie of the land. Had she been wearing high-viz clothing there is no doubt that she would have been spotted much earlier.

In a different incident another helicopter crew were on their way to a road traffic accident and ahead of the police car. Because they could see horse riders wearing hi-viz gear a couple of miles ahead on the same twisting road as the car, they were able to contact the driver and advise him to switch off his sirens and lights and slow down.

So the message to all of us, wherever we ride or carriage drive, is “BE SEEN”.




Back in October of last year your committee decided to delay the annual meeting to the Spring of this year. We are planning for an earlier start to the evening at Speech House Hotel on Thursday 19th March at 6.30pm with refreshments and with more opportunity for you all to chat to us and each other.  Do put this date in your diary as we hope to have some exciting news for you all on developing the bridleway network.




A recently formed bridleway group in the Stroud area has asked us if anyone in the Forest of Dean would be willing to show a small group of riders (possibly carriage drivers) around their favourite local ride/drive. If you would be willing to lead group of say 3 or 4 then please contact Mrs Pat Harris 01453 823841 to discuss ideas.

This could be a great opportunity to promote what we are doing and get some press coverage. Also, a good way to raise funds for our Association. If you decide to raise funds then let Erica Rye know so that she can tell the BHS who provide our insurance cover for such events.

If a ride/drive could be organised for BHS Access week (15 – 25 May 2009) then we could support the BHS Access fighting fund as well – the BHS suggest a donation of £10 per rider and will provide the organiser with support (contact Hannah Brown on 01926 707813 or email

If you decide to go ahead and organise a ride or drive then let us know and we can publicise it on our website.




We have provided with various members’ help a series of leaflets covering rides and carriage drives around the district. These will be available from Tourism at Forest of Dean Council offices.

Proposed changes to the Definitive Map in Kilcot are likely to have to go to the Inspector for a final decision to be made. This exercise started in 2003 so you can see that one has to be committed and patient!  A local farmer has been approached about providing access across his land and that of a neighbour, which would provide a link to Haywood in Gorsley.  Our proposed project bid for EU monies would include this subject to the landowners’ agreement.

There is no further news on changes to the map around May Hill, but the group working in this locality are meeting with a local landowner to access woodland. We hope to support the landowner via the European monies that will be managed by the Forest of Dean District Council.

Queens Wood / Dymock Wood / Haywood – the Forestry Commission have agreed a three phase approach to improving the going for horse riders in this area subject to the Association being able to access funding for materials. The FC will provide manpower and machinery.

Members in the Tidenham area are working with their parish council and the Forestry Commission to reinstate “lost” routes to be used by walkers and cyclists as well as equestrians. Again, this Association hopes to support them with EU funding.

A local farmer in the Longhope area has indicated a willingness to consider dedicating a circular ride over his land which would link to an existing bridleway and provide much needed off-road riding. This may form part of our bid for EU funding.

As you may have read elsewhere, Sustrans is making positive noises about opening up their plans for the disused railway line in the Brockweir area to include equestrian usage. They are a powerful lobbying organisation who we believe will help us in our negotiations with local authorities to develop a more cohesive network.

If there is something happening in your area that we haven’t included then please email us with details ……. Or if you need help/advice on a local issue then please email Erica Rye our Secretary and we will do our best to support you.



Where has the time gone since we sent out the Spring/Summer newsletter? Yes, you are correct in thinking that you didn’t get the usual Autumn/Winter edition! It wasn’t that we were being lazy, just rather tied up in organising our first table top sale amongst a lot of meetings/contacts with other organisations in furtherance of our aims to improve riding and carriage driving provision throughout the district.

The table top sale and raffle was a great success raising enough money to pay for a contractor to work on clearing the ride and carriage drive in the Yorkley area known locally as the Pylons Ride. The track is on Forestry Commission land and it is good to have their support.  This work will be carried out when the ground is dryer (hopefully), in the Spring.

We have developed very good relations with Forestry Commission personnel, not least in the woodland to the north of the district covering Dymock and Queens Wood. We are working together to try and raise funds to improve a poorly drained area of a circular ride in Queenswood and to improve access into Haywood. A member living in Kempley with contacts into her local parish council is actively supporting us by suggesting that the parish council could contribute monies….. so go and have a chat to your local councillor to see how your parish council could help. Taking a quote from the Chairman of the BHS; “Are you one of those who, when encountering a blocked bridleway, mutters “This is terrible! They ought to do something about it!” Or is your immediate thought: “This is terrible! I ought to do something about it!”?  We have a group of dedicated equestrians who largely fall into the second category but we could be more effective if everyone was in the latter band.

As we go to press on this newsletter we are starting to pull together outline bids for accessing European funding via the Forest of Dean District Council and will be meeting with regional personnel of Sustrans to see how we can work together – there is definitely a change of attitude with positive comments being made about equestrian access to the proposed cycleway development of the defunct railway line in the south of the district.

By the time of our AGM / Open meeting on the 19th March at Speech House Hotel we should have a lot more information to share with you. We are planning a more social event for the evening but more details will be sent to you later….. don’t  forget to put the date in your diary now!

As ever, if you have a couple of hours free every other month we would welcome you on to the committee. Or if you have a particular skill to offer but can’t manage a regular meeting commitment, then do contact one of the committee to offer your help. Currently our website wouldn’t run without this kind of support and another member is hugely helpful with digital mapping exercises. At the moment we really need someone to take minutes of our meetings … the help could just simply be that, with no pressure to get involved in other “work”.