Thursday, 20 August 2015

Buzz and Lark go off to Scotland

One early morning in the middle of August, a team of bleary eyed rangers waved off two of our Konik Ponies as they set off on a journey up to Scotland.

Buzzard (Buzz for short) and Lark are two yearling, male Koniks that were born at Wicken Fen. They started life out on Baker's Fen, and were part of the herd that were moved over to Burwell Fen last summer. All of the other males in that group were either castrated or vasectomised, to stop any further breeding in that herd. Buzz and Lark were too young to have this done however as their testicles had not yet descended. This meant that this summer they started to show interest in the mares in the herd, which presented the rangers with a situation. We had two choices to keep the herd non-breeding, either castrate these two boys, or move them out of the herd.

Luckily we had been contacted by the Wardens from the RSPB at the Loch of Strathberg asking whether we could sell them some Konik Ponies to help with their breeding herd of horses. Buzz and Lark were ideal, young enough that them leaving our herd wouldn't affect the hierarchy and social dynamics to much, but old enough to be able to stand their ground and earn a new position in a new herd in Scotland.

We then had to prepare Buzz and Lark for the journey. Once Stan and his little herd had vacated the hospital paddock near the Visitor's Centre, we moved Buzz and Lark in, about a month before they were due to leave. The vet came in to help with this move, sedating them to keep them clam for the short journey from Burwell Fen. Once they were at the paddock we could spend more time with them, getting them used to people being around more often than they saw on Burwell Fen. We also introduced them to a new food, a minty lick, so we could use it as a tasty treat to tempt them to go where we wanted. Our herds don't recognise many foods that domestic horses go wild for as they have never experience anything but grass so it can take a while for them to work up the courage to try new foods. As young boys though, Buzz and Lark are particularly curious, so soon discovered how yummy the licks were. This meant we could call them over to a corral every morning, getting them used to walking in and out of the structure, where they got a little treat.

Using the minty licks to try and convince the boys trailers aren't all that bad
Buzz was convinced, but lark not so much. 
Sometimes you can have the head in the trailer, but the back legs are not moving any closer!

The morning of the big move arrived and as the horses were being picked up at 7am, the rangers had to be at work even earlier to get them ready to go. This meant calling them over to the corral, shutting all the doors behind them before they noticed and then loading them into our trailer ready to be transferred to the larger transport vehicle. The work over the past month must have paid off as we managed to get his all done in about an hour and we pulled up into the car park with the horses, at the same time as the transport guys pulled up. After some fiddly reversing to get our trailers bum to bum, we opened up the doors and pushed Buzz and Lark over into the more comfortable trailer for the long journey.

Peering out for his last look at Wicken. 

Sussing out the new trailer
 Buzz and Lark had an over night stop on the way up to Scotland and arrived the next evening at the Loch of Strathberg. They are doing well and are getting used to their new home before being introduced to the mares in a few weeks.

Bye bye boys!

No comments:

Post a Comment