A world without horses is no world for our circus.
We try to ensure that the horses in our show have a good balance between work and rest, and that at some point in the year they get to go out in the lovely rolling fields of Fennells Farm and be horses. This means that they do not come in, they do not have rugs on but live out in the wild. They grow thick oily coats and live in little herds. For example having done a few good seasons work Full House, our Shire horse, is now out in the valley with his brother High Card.
All the horses, whether they are in work or not, are visited several times a year by the equine dentist, farrier, nutritionist and chiropractor, and are regularly wormed. This the base line of their care, although there are other consultants who input into their health, for example our wonderful vet, Tim Beauregard, our saddle fitter Kay Humphries and outside trainer Lotte Seal.
Our horses are given hay and some corn but are basically living like wild horses. They may even be out like this for up to a year as we move and rotate the horses in the shows. My first horse, Eclipse, is on permanent retirement and lives with a brood mare called Pearl, as a companion to her as she has her foals. I don't believe in putting winter rugs on these horses as I think it can interfere with their natural thermostat that is reset by these rest periods out in the wild. Rugs can also be quite dangerous as horses can get tangled up in them.
All our horses are owned and trained by us. Each year we buy and sometimes sell or re-home horses. This keeps the show new and interesting.
We do not hire in animal acts as we believe that if we own and train the animals ourselves then we know exactly how the performance of each horses has been achieved and how the horses are kept. It is the same for our dog acts.
We have two new additions to the team; a couple of lovely Eriskay ponies, Max and Percy.
Eriskay ponies are a rare breed and now endangered so we are delighted that we are able to give them a home on the farm. Eriskays are renowned for being honest and intelligent with a pronounced level of confidence and affinity with humans, so they will fit right in.
The chickens seem to love the dry airy barn and we have bedded them down in plenty of dry straw and they eat all the scraps from the kitchen. They lay about a dozen eggs each day. The chickens are ex-battery hens and we are going to get more chickens in April when we go into full circus production mode, with the aim of supplying our chefs with our own eggs to feed all the hungry circus performers and set painters.