Two rare breed ponies are helping Reaseheath College undergraduates to understand how the equine mind works.
Exmoor ponies Yasmin and Yohan, who are 19 months old, are being handled and trained by students studying for degrees in Animal Behaviour and Welfare or Zoo Management at the Nantwich, Cheshire college.
The ponies, which were bred by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, began their education at Reaseheath’s equine centre last year and were featured in several programmes of the popular TV series.
Adam has since donated the filly and gelding to Reaseheath and they have joined other rare breed paddock animals which are used to teach students about their care. Many Reaseheath students go on to work in zoos and farm parks and find the experience invaluable to prepare for their future careers.
The students are training the ponies to lead on a halter in a round pen using natural horsemanship methods. They are also getting them used to being handled and groomed in the hopes that they can be entered into regional agricultural shows such as the Cheshire Show and Nantwich Show next year.
Hoofstock Keeper Kerri Robson hopes to set up a Showing Group for students who are interested in preparing and exhibiting animals in the showring. Apart from training the ponies, members will be involved in bathing, grooming and transporting them. Interested students may also get the chance to show Reaseheath’s rare Golden Guernsey goats.
Plans are already in place to include a fun rare breeds show in the programme for Reaseheath’s popular Family Festival, to be held this year on Sunday May 18.
Kerri successfully showed Reaseheath’s Welsh Section A pony Cassie last year at the Cheshire Show. She explained: “ I am hoping to show the students how rewarding showing animals can be.”
“Thanks to Adam, our students have the chance to show well bred and attractive ponies which will hopefully catch the judges’ eye. It is also an opportunity for them to learn how to do basic groundwork with untrained ponies. Being able to gaining this sort of experience is quite rare and a great privilege.”
Madeline Harrison, 18, who has volunteered to help with the ponies along with fellow students Sophie Dockray, Dani Cowell and Daniel Crutchley, said: “It has been very interesting to learn how to assess the ponies’ behaviour and how to work with them.”