Who’s Who: Dogs and Horses

Tilly  who is on the right- hand side of our header picture.

Tilly was the first dog, Chris and Michelle owned together. She was a very loyal and clever dog and was used to work the  milking cows, when Sparhanger was a dairy farm. She would pick out cows simply by Chris pointing to them and would have the cows all waiting by the gate just before milking.

When Sparhanger moved over to horses Tilly’s job changed. She would patrol the yard and tell off any horse that dared bang on the door. Like Smog she would accompany the rides.

The time came when Tilly chose retirement. She didn’t ride out with us but would still patrol the yards and car park demanding a payment of a biscuit from everyone who came. She’d lie in the middle of the road making every one drive around her, this was when we took to putting a fluorescent coat on her.

Our neighbour Mary,  across the valley had building work going on and Tilly would find her way across each day in time to share their lunch and then have a lift home with them in time for tea.

Tilly died in January 2008, aged 14.  With her went the last part of the dairy farm. We both adored Tilly and miss her greatly.

Smog, taking a cautious walk in the Snow

Smog, taking a cautious walk in the Snow

This photo was taken in  2009

Smog   Aged around 10 in 2009


Coming on hacks,  no matter how long, or how fast.
Lying in a dirty puddle.
Leaving a Smog-print on clean trousers.
Pinching horse treats from tack boxes.
Burying bones in the arena.
Barking, if she considers we are going too slow.


Being on a lead.
Being brushed.

Smog lives outside and is probably the maddest dog we’ve ever had. Although from working stock she has never had the slightest of interest in sheep.

Not a dog who wants a lot of fussing but is never far away from Michelle. She tends to find holes to lie in keeping a eye on general goings on.
She has also been known to pinch the odd cake from the portacabin.

She keeps an eye on everything, and lets us know if anyone she doesn’t recognise is about!

Albert, better known as Albie

Albert, better known as Albie

Albert or mostly Albie
D.O.B          20th Feb 2002
Mum.         Gertie
Dad.            Bertie
Brother to Archie and Lily

To have Sole Attention
Haribo  Sweets
Chasing quad bikes
Biting Stanley
Going out in cars

Water, swimming or having a bath
Being left at home

Albie is the grumpiest of all the dogs but when you consider his responsibilities and the fact that he is gaining a middle age spread, it is probably understandable.
He gets away with most things as he has the ultimate weapon, tell him off and he pees on the floor.
He loves to sit on laps trying to look intelligent while all the time eyeing up the biscuits and working out how to pinch them. 
Albie’s often found with his head stuck in coat pockets looking for treats (especially Di’s where he’s almost certain to find something due to Di’s constant supply of horse treats)
He also has a strange liking for mints.
Like all the dogs he’s very loyal to Michelle and never too far away from her.

Queen Gertie
Queen Gertie

 Gertie  Or should it be Queen Gert
Date of Birth  February 2000

Mother to Lily, Archie and Albie
Wife to Bert

Being Warm
Winter coats
and when Nanny comes to visit.


Gertie is a proper little lady who tends to get what she wants by a mixture of whining and moaning until we give in (which we always do).
She a very small terrier with a heart the size of a ocean, and is very fast. Rats, mice look out, they have no chance when Gert’s about.
She has a great knack of hiding, often disguising herself as a flower in Sarah’s plants. The words “right then” will always provoke a response, often a quick dash out of the portacabin in the hope of chasing the quad bike.


Stanley, about 6 months

Stanley, about 6 months


Born Feb 2005
Brother to Bob.

Anything edible, sometime things you wouldn’t consider edible.
Swimming in the sea, river and puddles, in fact water in general.
Lots of fuss.
Chasing balls.
Going for rides in the car, quad bike and in particular the mule. 
Not forgetting Rags.

Robert on his quad bike
Ducks (they attacked him in Lynmouth, very scary).
Albie who beats him up.

Stanley is big, black and stupid. But adorable. Is often to be seen sitting at the portacabin table, just happy being part of the group. He joins us on an hour ride once a day, he can’t do any more as he’s missing a bone in his elbow, he wouldn’t want to anyway as he has very little energy. When Stanley’s not doing any of the things in his likes list, he’s lying on his back, snoring.
Stanley’s best friend is Rags, they are always together.



Rags in 2007

Rags in 2007


Jack Russell/Yorkie Cross
Born February 2007

Riding out, going on quad bikes and in cars.
All human food
Being wet dirty and smelly, but also likes being brushed
Nipping legs.

Dog food
Being left on his own.

Smelly, hairy, naughty but really cute. 
We found Rags at a horse sale, sitting in a pocket looking very small and bewildered. The chap was trying to sell him and like a fool I just had to have him. (Chris was not pleased) When we got him home we had him checked out by a vet who aged him at about 4 weeks. Poor Rags wasn’t eating solids, so a diet of scambled eggs, yoghurt and milk replacement was given,  offered anything harder to eat, he took it away and  hid it.
Rags has firmly made his mark here at Sparhanger, for a little dog he has a very big attitude
Rags loves Stanley, they are great mates.




Jet, one month old

Jet, one month old

Jetstream Smarties

Born 4th June 2009
Owned by Cathy and Edward.

Dam              Smarties
Sire               Sparhanger Troy
Foster Dam     Myrtle

Milk formula, 
Being out in the field charging around,
Lots of fuss and attention,
Bits of apple.

Late feeds,
Worming paste.

Jet has become a main player at Sparhanger, making himself known to every one who comes here.

For a little chap he has a heart the size of an ocean. He plays hard, giving poor Myrtle a hard time just keeping up with him.

If he could, Jet would be playing on a trampoline, riding motorbikes and generally causing havoc while wearing a hoodie.

I’m sure if he could say it himself he would be the first to say a big  THANK YOU  to everyone who kindly gives up their time to help with his feeds.

If he’s half the horse his mum Smarties was we have a star in the making, so watch this space.




Myrtle  (Cascob Old Maid)
Registered  Welsh section D mare
Sire    Cascob Attitude
Dam   Ebbw Victor’s Pride
DOB   May 1999

Bay, 16 hh

She owns Di and Bob,( probably the right way round!)

Foals will adopt as many as she can and sometimes thinks ponies are foals.
Being ridden (very exciting) often tries to recreate parts of the River dance.

Her ears being touched              
Sudden movements
Vets especially if she needs an injection
Being clipped.

Affectionately known as “Mad Myrtle” due to her sometimes strange behaviour.
 We got her as an unbroken 4yr old through a contact from Exeter market and when she arrived she was the first horse to  put our quarantine procedure to the test as within 24 hours she showed classic symptoms of strangles.

We routinely quarantine all  horses new to the yard as a safeguard.

Unfortunately strangles was confirmed and as a stables we closed doors for the duration.  Through strict and careful management it didn’t spread to any other horse and Myrtle came through without any long term effects (apart from not wanting her ears to be touched).
She is nervous of new people but once she begins to trust you she a friend for life. Myrtle fell completely in love with Bob so much so that when he had to spend quite a bit of time away from her she pined, went off her feed, box walked and ran her teeth along the wall.  We were so worried we were going do a blood test to see if there was anything medically wrong. Bob cut  his trip short  when he heard Mytle was not well. When he arrived up at the stable she checked him  out then turned around to eat her food, ignoring him.  The fact she was eating, we knew she was on the mend.

 From that day on Bob belonged to her.



Age very old!

Winnie was bought at Brendon pony sales by Chelle’s  mum.
He was unbroken and had to be walked all the way home to Furzehill. Chelle’s young cousin walked part of the way back and soon became tired so he sat up on Winston who didn’t bat a eyelid  and was ridden the rest of the way home. Winston was then broken in.
He used to ride out with the very young children and has even done a days hunting with the Exmoor Foxhounds.
Winston retired himself by simply refusing to move and is now a regular feature in the cleeve fields.




Sparhanger Phoenix

DOB         4th March 2006
Dam        Jest a Minit (Jessie)
Sire         Troy

Phoenix is one of the  first crop of foals we had from Troy, and Michelle’s favourite.  She’s been given to Chloe who will hopefully take her on and compete with her.  In temperament she takes after her sire as she seems quite laid back.
This is one to watch