Thursday, October 24, 2013

Please Vote for the Newfoundland Ponies!

The Newfoundland Ponies;  Story below the photos.
With my Jigger

Pony Love

The home of the ponies is beautiful but temporary.

Betsy grazing

Add caption

Jigger

I love this guy

At the pasture in Birch Cove, Change Islands.

Jigger

Jigger

Jessica on Betsy



Jessica and my kids and Betsy


The Newfoundland Pony is the heritage pony of the province of Newfoundland.  Sadly there are still no more than two hundred of these beautiful animals left in the province.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that they helped build Newfoundland.  They are work horses and from the mines of Bell Island, to hauling lumber in the logging industry to pulling wood for every single fishing community that dots the coast and interior of this province, the breed worked with their human masters to create all that we had.  And then with mechanization they were abandoned, slaughtered or left to die.  This Noble breed that gave so much to this place, left to languish and disappear from the earth like the Great Auk and the Beothuk.  

But then came Netta and she thought, it's not too late. 

A breeding program was set up on Change Islands with the goal of saving the breed.  And Netta LeDrew runs that entirely by herself.  But the grant for a new barn was lost when land purchase was delayed due to government bureaucracy.  So now the program has stalled and even a mare that was needing a home had to be turned away due to space.  This mare was a much needed addition to the sanctuary and she would have been able to work for the organization by doing pony rides or pulling buggies.

Yes,  the program has stopped.  

There is nothing I like to do more when I go to Change Islands than to visit the Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary to spend time with these amazing animals. But they were not meant to just be a tourist attraction though they are with hundreds of people from all over the world coming to see them every single year.  In fact the facility survives solely on donations from kind and generous visitors.

When I first started doing freelance writing for the local media, one of the first stories I did was about the need for these ponies to have a new barn. But it quickly became more than a story.  It became a cause.

I love these ponies(particularly Jigger but don't tell the others) and I wanted to help.  And I knew in my heart that there were many others who would want to help with the endeavor to get the facility so needed. The current barns are both on borrowed property, too small and starting to wear.  They are temporary structures who have outlived their purpose.  So we're going to get them a new one.  Of that I have no doubt.

I decided to use some of my great abundance of energy to do something to help Netta LeDrew, my cousin and the person who cares for all the ponies and is in charge of the sanctuary, get the barn she needs not only for the ponies themselves but for her, as her working conditions are much more difficult than they need to be due to her charges having two different temporary barns and neither having a water source such that she has to bring all the water herself.  She lugs the hay, she organizes everything.  

So she has no time to do all the other stuff.  She has twelve ponies to take care of.  Actually, she's been doing doing quite well--she's a dynamo--but why not make things a bit easier for her right?

To that end I've been co-ordinating fundraising efforts by enlisting the help of people all over the province and to date we--all of those involved -- have raised $18,000 towards the goal of $50,000 required since that first story broke in the newspapers.  I'm just the self appointed communicator and today I'm communicating a need to you.  

Also I know I have an international audience here and there are people who love horses on every continent.  People who know people and people who would love to help.

I was correct in my guess that people want to help.  In addition to raising money We  have negotiated a website for the sanctuary at a very low cost.  Another person has donated their time(the person is a lawyer)to help with the paperwork of setting up non-profit status, The Rug Hooker's Guild has donated money raised in a camp and a local "hooker" has donated a rug she created of Betsy, a Newfoundland Pony at the sanctuary.  People like Byron Hierhily has started the friends of the Newfoundland Pony group which as raised $1500 and private businesses like the Lewisporte Coop have donated funds towards the endeavor.  We are many doing small things that are making a big difference.  The list goes on and on and on and on.  Every single bit helps. When the website is published there will be a page with all of the people supporting this effort on it.  

I would like to express my extreme gratitude to every single person who has sold something, donated something, bought tickets or sold them, spent time creating a new fundraiser such as Calendars and T-shirts to sell.  

Now I have something new to share with you.  Recently Jessica Porter, a local girl on Change Islands and the owner of Newfoundland pony Betsy entered the pony Sanctuary into the AVIVA Community Fund competition.  This gives the Sanctuary the opportunity to compete for a share of one million dollars awarded by Aviva Insurance to winning causes.  Over the next couple of weeks we are working hard to promote this competition which will be won only with your votes.  We will have to work hard to move up the ranks and get into the next phase.  I think we can do it.

So what can you do? Vote!  Just go into the website and click the button. Then share and share again and have your friends do the same.  That's it.  You can vote every day.  Check out the photos of the ponies also.  They're amazing.  Look into Jigger's eyes and promise him you won't let his kind become extinct.  Just two hundred in the province.  Some quite old.  But this program and your help, a tiny little click of the button each day can make a difference.

It's a little thing..but a lot of little things make a big thing.  Be part of a big thing.

Thank you.




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