Cheeky little Scooby, who has just retired after 19 years of giving riding lessons to British children with physical and learning disabilities, may well go down in history as the ultimate gift horse.
Thirty-year-old Scooby was given to the New Yatt Riding for the Disabled Association in North Leigh, West Oxfordshire, in1994, when he was an 11-year-old.
His owners not only delivered Scooby to the association, but brought with him a £1000 donation, plus apples, carrots and feed for all the horses.
Scooby went on to give 19 years of faithful service, giving riding lessons to children who faced difficulties in their lives.
When children moved on to bigger horses, they continued to help care for him whilst learning about stable management.
The 11.2-hand Scooby, a Shetland-New Forest pony cross, also took part in games, races, local shows, and sponsored rides during his career, and even featured in a musical ride for Princess Anne, who opened New Yatt RDA’s new centre in 1996.
At 30, the piebald gelding can now be ridden for only short periods and has earned his retirement at The Horse Trust, the world’s first horse charity.
New Yatt RDA volunteer Pat Kelly, who has been helping at the New Yatt centre for 29 years, is retiring at the same time as Scooby after volunteering with the association for 29 years.
Kelly brought Scooby to the trust’s retirement centre and helped settle him in to his new home.
“Scooby is a cheeky, friendly little boy who was a favourite with everyone,” she said.
“We all have lots of great memories of him. Scooby might be 30 but no-one has told him. He still thinks he is four!
“If he had a motto, it would be: ‘When I grow up I am going to be a racehorse’.
“Scooby was the perfect RDA pony, he would happily plod around the school with his young riders, but if he knew it was a race he was fiercely competitive and usually won.”
She said Scooby would be missed terribly at the RDA centre, but she was pleased he could spend his retirement at The Horse Trust.”
Scooby’s retirement provided an opportunity for him to catch up with an old RDA mate, Topsy.
Topsy, a 29-year-old 14.3-hand skewbald mare, retired to the trust in January 2011 after 19 years service at the same RDA centre where Scooby worked.
The Horse Trust chief executive Jeanette Allen said the charity was delighted to be able to offer Scooby a well-deserved retirement after so many years spent helping disabled children.
“We are sure that he will settle in well to his retirement and become a firm favourite with staff and visitors, just like his friend, Topsy”.
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