Welcome to
Equi Phoenix

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes
through Equine Grazing

Conservation Advice, Training & Consultancy
Feral Pony Training, Handling Systems & Sourcing
Do you need support sourcing ponies? Or ranger training, contact us today and we can discuss your individual requirements

Equines Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes Throughout Europe

Hello, I'm Dru.

Beautiful Dartmoor, often described as the last real wilderness of South West England, is where I developed my passion for its tough, hardy native ponies. Animals that can withstand Atlantic gales and summer droughts, it's almost as if they were built for the climatic changes we are now witnessing.

Some of my earliest memories are of ponies grazing the open moor and the annual pony drift, when Dartmoor would come alive to the sound of hundreds of ponies being gathered in the early autumn. Through Equi Phoenix it is a privilege to support the many pony keepers and breeders across the UK helping promote the importance of our Native equine breeds, thus protecting our heritage as we find new uses for equines in the world of conservation to enhance our biodiversity through their grazing habits.

My experience of equine conservation grazing has been gained through working with a range of native and non-native breeds, such as the Exmoor, Shetland, Welsh Mountain, Konik and the Carneddau ponies from North Wales.

Much of my practical experience was gained through handling semi-feral ponies and managing a 450 hectare moorland site on Dartmoor.

During my time as Chief Executive of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust, I led a research project to establish the effectiveness of equine grazing on Molinia grass using salt blocks as an attractant. The project ran for six years in partnership with Plymouth University with outstanding results.

For the past 16 years my equine consultancy provided guidance, advice and training to private clients, wildlife and conservation organisations, as well as national and regional grazing NGOs across the UK.

In April 2022 I launched Equi Phoenix Ltd, we source and train equines for conservation grazing systems, equine welfare and management advice for those using or considering the use of equines in the conservation grazing sector, site and risk assessments, equine and ranger / warden / volunteer team training.

Private clients welcome for equine support / training / courses / advice.

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

Conservation grazing is the use of semi-feral or domesticated stock to increase biodiversity of natural or semi-natural grasslands, heathlands, wood pasture, wetlands and many other habitats.

Semi-wild equine breeds such as the native Dartmoor, Exmoor and New Forest play a fundamental role in managing the landscape. Their grazing can be used to great effect in managing sites to enhance biodiversity.

Equines are browsers, through their ability to selectively graze and ability to switch to less palatable forage when necessary and with the season they are becoming more popular with government bodies and livestock owners as an asset to wildlife recovery.

Equine grazing can be used anywhere across the UK where a system requires a varied sward structure, from short to longer, tussocky vegetation with bare ground as the desired objective.

Mature native equine breeds thrive where other livestock tend to lose condition

With certain provisos they can graze all year round in extreme environments.

Their dunging, trampling and grazing activities open areas dominated by molinia, bracken and bramble and will knock back woodland encroachment.

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

Equine Assisted Learning

Equine Assisted Intervention is a holistic approach to supporting our mental and physical wellbeing. The team at Equi Phoenix have over fifteen years experience in Equine Assisted Learning and have worked with many challenging and highly anxious young people with great success. We look forward to discussing your unique situation.

Equine and People Training

Over fifteen years experience in training semi feral and traumatised equines. Starting untouched foals / youngstock a speciality and training native equines for conservation grazing systems. Supporting people on their horse training journey or helping provide training solutions for people who have lost confidence with native breeds / traumatized / problem horses or young, unstarted semi-ferals. Here to provide coaching and guidance. We look forward to discussing your situation and how we can help you.

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

National Trust

“Dru delivered a pony lookering course for our team of rangers and pony lookering volunteers. The course covered everything we needed from procedures and protocols, diseases, signs of ill health to look out for, animal behaviour and condition scoring. Dru’s enthusiasm and knowledge were engaging and informative and the training has enabled us to move forward as a team with refreshed procedures and a clear idea of what each of our roles are in lookering and managing our in-hand herd of Shetland Ponies down on the Cornish Coast.”

RSPB Ouse Fen - Managing Equines For Conservation Grazing Course

Hi Dru I feel the study day was very worthwhile. Your passion and enthusiasm shone through. For me who had some knowledge of grazing benefits but little of equines it was of great interest ( and importance!). You conveyed the benefits of semi - feral ponies to conservation. To ensure the success of introducing equines to a conservation area it is important that the herd’s welfare is taken seriously by vigilante, appropriately trained staff and volunteers. I look forward to my lookering responsibilities. With kind regards Pia Ashton

Yarner Wood National Nature Reserve

I am a conservation and access volunteer for the national park and signed up to this course to increase my understanding of conservation grazing and gain some pony welfare skills. I found this course to be informative and engaging, and left feeling a lot more confident in all areas of pony grazing and welfare. The course teacher is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about conservation grazing, which kept the group motivated throughout the day. I would highly recommend this course for anyone, from complete beginners to established conservationists, you will be certain to learn a lot! Many thanks. Ellen Smith Conservation and Access Volunteer

Genuinely One of the Best & Most Enjoyable Courses I Have Been On!

I spent the day exploring the keeping and use of Equines for Conservation grazing with Dru Butterfield, a horse whisperer with endless knowledge on the phycology, physiology, behaviour and welfare requirements of equines and other livestock. A brilliant course where I learned a lot and definitely helped my confidence for entering my new role! Thanks for answering all my questions. Highly recommend it for those managing or checking horses! Kelly Hunt Magdalen Farm Environmental Trust August 2022

Sourcing, Handling & Taking Delivery of 28 Dartmoor Ponies for Conservation Grazing

Hi Dru Just to say a massive thank you for all the work you have put in with the ponies, all the work and effort is recognised and we now have a fine herd of fit and healthy Dartmoor ponies to look after. Brilliant, we have finally got there! All the best Ash Pearson Countryside Manager West Cornwall National Trust

Managing Equines For Conservation Grazing Course October 2022

It was all highly valuable, informative and I have come away with more knowledge. I wouldn't have changed anything. Many Thanks Maria Bailey

Grazing Agreement & Advice Given to RSPB

Dru has been incredibly helpful in sharing with us her knowledge of Dartmoor ponies and advising us on a variety of issues from infrastructure to pony numbers for the site, and introduced us to Paul our grazier. From the off, Paul has been very enthusiastic about the project and was always very flexible and accommodating to meet our grazing requirements, dropping off and collecting the ponies on the requested dates. The ponies themselves have been a huge success with both visitors and the job they were brought on to do. They have helped knock back the encroaching rank grasses on our heathland, nibbled away at the scrub (including birch, bramble and broom) as well as lightly graze the heather, which will help encourage new growth. The team also enjoyed the discovery of dung beetles after the delightful task of rummaging through some of the dung. Overall, it has been a very easy process to hire the ponies Alan Kell Warden, The Lodge RSPB The Lodge Nature Reserve

It's All About Trust!

We have been working with Dru for many years now, in fact some of our original ponies have their twentieth birthday this year! Dartmoors are an ideal breed for us on our heathland restoration sites – hardy, able to eat a wide range of vegetation, and they hold their condition well, even in a year like this where a severe drought in the summer is being followed by a cold winter. Although we breed our own cattle and sheep we have always felt it the right thing to do to buy ponies directly off the farmers of Dartmoor – helping to conserve a rare breed and adding to the local economy. Being some distance from Dartmoor having someone we know and trust to act between us and the farmers is invaluable; Dru understands exactly the type of animal we want and how tame we want them. She liaises with the farmers to source, select and handle the ponies for us, taking away most of the risks in buying remotely. Having local contacts with transport providers also helps to ensure that Equi Pheonix is a ‘one stop shop’ for conservation ponies and I have no reason to think our relationship won’t continue long into the future. Jon Nature Conservation Manager

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

  • 7 Drovers Lane, Chagford, England, United Kingdom

Regenerating Habitats and Landscapes through Equine Grazing

Equi Phoenix Organises the Sale & Delivery of 15 Pedigree Dartmoor Ponies to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Equi Phoenix has sourced 15 Dartmoor ponies for Dartmoor Hill Farmers to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust for conservation grazing

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Nip It In The Bud

Petting the foal and yearling has caused issues with nipping and over friendly conservation grazing ponies.

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28 Dartmoor Ponies sourced, handled, strangles tested, vet checked, delivered, 22 site assessments and a report prepared and ranger training provided. Job done! Time for a well earned break. Thanks National Trust West Cornwall, I'm going home to Dartmoor! Just got home and I have another order for 15 ponies, raincheck better get going on another batch!

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Back in Cornwall with the National Trust

Back down working for the National Trust carrying our site assessments and training wardens. Having a great time!

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To Graze or Not To Graze

A visit to Kingsley Vale National Nature Vale left in me in a quandary.

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Groundswell June 2022

Groundswell June 2022 Regenerative Farming Conference

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Rhos Pasture - grazing is vital for invertebrates

Rhos Pasture - importance of pony grazing

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