Thank you to everyone who has been supporting the return of the ponies' water buckets at Traprain Law. I hope the information given here helps us all to have a clear understanding of the situation.
You will see below a map that was originally created by Duncan to sponsor Liz for clearing ragwort in 2013, proceeds of which went to the ponies Charity MMT. Please ignore the red colours and just focus on the numbers within the green and red areas only. (Each time Liz cleared an area Duncan would check it had been cleared and then would colour it in red). Several hundred pounds were raised through this Event thanks to the goodwill found between the ponies' Charity MMT, Duncan at the Council and the many people who generously donated.
I have displayed this map to help people understand the position of troughs and Pen.
Please note: This is a rough guide only as each area was really designated a number for the ragwort sponsoring for Liz in 2013.
No. 3 = Quarry. There is an entrance to Traprain Law in this vicinity (east area) where a very small bowser trough was installed in the middle of 2019. It holds approximately 1000 litres (approx. 264gals) - which sounds a lot until you realise that in the event of the ponies' needing to totally rely on this (if the south trough broke down) it would last them no more than 4 - 5 days. I am pointing this out because just a few years ago one Boxing Day I found the south trough was not refilling. I immediately reported it but was told nothing could be done about it until the Office opened up again after New Year..... At the time I was not too concerned as the ponies also had the Pen buckets in those days. Once the Office returned after New Year I was told that in fact the water had been turned off - and mistakenly not turned back on again.... This could easily have happened in a very hot, dry Summer. Remember too there was no small bowser trough then either. The trough is also extremely small; I have been there on occasions witnessing just 1 pony accessing it at a time.
No. 12 = where the bowser trough on the east section is placed.
Please note: When the ponies are at the east (quarry) area they cannot access the north Car Park side at all. In order to go to the west or north sides of the hill they must first go back through the south side.
No. 18 = is where the south trough and south stile are both situated. Consequently there is much activity immediately at the stile throughout the day by visitors needing to access this side of the hill. Although the visitors are extremely "pony friendly" any pony accessing water when visitors are arriving or leaving will be frequently disinclined to use the trough. Some ponies will remain at times but other, more timid ponies will feel the need to flee. Recently I witnessed 11 ponies leaving the area having just drunk at the trough while 2 other ponies were only just arriving. On seeing the 11 ponies leave (because people were walking towards the stile) the 2 ponies turned and fled with the rest of the herd. I met those 2 ponies much later on the other side of the hill and gave them bucket water..... Occasionally the ponies will graze the south trough side for several hours, usually when they have been minimising their water intake for several days, but their general pattern is to visit this trough once a day only. By the time they arrive at the south trough they are all extremely thirsty - which is when herd bullying can occur.
People find it difficult to understand why the ponies do not stay on that side long usually but from the ponies' viewpoint it is easy to understand. Look at the hill and you will readily see that the south side is also an excellent practise side for rock climbers. This means the south area only has one "escape route" for the ponies - they have a feeling of being trapped around there. Opposite the stile and trough are very high rocks - perfect for rock climbers, not so good if you are a pony who cannot rock climb! If you study their movements well you will find the ponies' always favour areas to rest where they have more than one "escape route".
Another reason is that the ponies' are "Sun Seekers" and the Sun leaves the south side far earlier than on the west side. The south side is also very high in insect activity and there is little shelter on that side from Sun or wind. On occasions high wind is "tunnelled" through the south side and often the ponies' do not go to the trough until the strong winds have subsided.
No. 13 = Old bothy walls - where the ponies frequently rest after drinking at the south trough. They come back to this area because there is shade from the bothy walls and good "escape routes". It is also here they are able to access the west slopes
No. 8 = west slope. The ponies usually go back up to the slopes after having used the south trough. The slopes give them fresher air, plenty of protection from wind directions - they use the shape of the slopes to rest in when winds are very high, particularly favouring the north slopes for protection in strong winds which they can access via the west slopes.
No. 4 = the wooden Pen is here. This is also where the Pen buckets used to be. The buckets were perfectly placed for days when SW winds were very high making access to the south trough extremely difficult, plenty of natural shelter in this area as well. They could access this area from the north or south sides with ease.
No. 1 = Car Park vicinity (north).
Proposed Paddock Fence
There has been discussion with the ponies' Charity MMT and Council about a paddock fence. I strongly advised against a fence being put on the south side only. There are numerous reasons for this. I suggested instead a fence being placed on the SW corner - approximately where No. 19 is on the map. From a practical viewpoint this would mean the ponies could access a favourite resting area which I call "a mini summit". It is a "connecting shoulder" between the west and south sides, high up and with good rocks which would keep the ponies hooves trimmed. (Rocks on the south side only are suitable for rock-climbing but not suitable for trimming hooves....!). This "connecting shoulder" is between No. 19 and No. 15 on the map but I have furnished both MMT and the Council with good, clear photographs of this area. It would be as easy to place a fence here as it would be on the south side only. If a fence were placed here (No. 19) the ponies would also feel they have more "escape route". They would also access the Sun for longer hours here.
Much discussion with photographs has been taking place on the Traprain Law Ponies Facebook page and you can access it by
clicking on the link below :-
Please note :-
The information given above is given to help bring resolution speedily to this situation. It is not designed to be a criticism of any people involved in the welfare of the ponies' but rather to help those involved have a deeper understanding of the situation. If we all want healthy ponies and good grazing the Pen buckets are the ideal answer. They could even be put further along the west side if it was thought more appropriate. Taking the buckets away has minimised the ongoing success of both the ponies' and the conservation programme - but that can quickly be corrected..... it is in everyone's interest. The ponies are already very wide grazers. Frequently in dry weather they will briefly use the south trough and yet I would see them much later above the Car Park area on the north side. The Council's "Veterinary Report" which was unnamed said exercise to the south trough would be good for the ponies. I am afraid in this instance that is entirely wrong. I and many visitors regularly see them north, west and south - very occasionally east - all in one day. They already exercise widely! The problem arises when they become "water fatigued" which in turn will lead to physical ailments - totally unnecessary at Traprain.... The ponies' have a 100% fitness record at Traprain having never needed a Vet in attendance there as yet. Lets help them keep that great fitness record.
I recognise there are many interested "departments" involved at Traprain but we are living in an Age now when working and harmonising together is far better than working within a solitary box of our own. The ponies' recognise they are "part" of the whole - and their aim is to harmonise, compromise where possible - but to also have their own needs respected. Water is the most fundamental aspect of all life on Planet Earth - the herd asks only that they have access to clean, fresh water without spending long hours without this precious Natural Gift.
There is no time or cost involved to the people in charge of Welfare at Traprain to have these buckets restored. Its really a simple request ......
thank you - Liz & The 13 Pony Kings
(Art work below created by a great Traprain Pony Fan!)