Life turned around for a pony named Rusty in 1984, after a poor start to life. It was a time when Margaret Thatcher was British prime minister and the country farewelled its one pound notes after 150 years in circulation.
It was also the year Rusty became one of the first ponies to enter the adoption scheme set up by the charity Redwings, after bouncing back from terrible neglect.
Rusty became a star of the scheme, which he was part of for a remarkable 30 years.
The charity this week announced Rusty’s death, at the age of 31.
“We are all incredibly sad to lose this wonderful pony,” the charity said.
The chestnut gelding was originally rescued by Redwings from Watton horse sale in very poor condition, suffering with a severe worm burden.
He was one of the first to join the charity’s adoption scheme when it began in 1984 and became a firm favourite among those wanting to financially support horses through the adoption programme.
Rusty only retired from “public life” in 2011, although he still continued to attract visitors in their hundreds to Redwing’s Caldecott Visitor Centre in Norfolk, where he lived.
Redwings said Rusty loved to charm everyone with his cheeky tricks and gentle nature, and the crowds always enjoyed watching him “request” more food from his carers with his hoof.
Over the past few years Rusty had developed age-related osteoarthritis and Cushing’s disease, a condition caused by problems in the functioning of the pituitary gland which can lead to weight loss and a variety of other ailments.
Although he coped with these conditions for several years with no problems, he recently began showing signs that he was deteriorating and had become quite dull and depressed. He refused to eat and was separating himself from his close friends.
Redwings said its veterinary team did all they could for Rusty, but it was clear the time had come and on Monday they made the difficult decision to euthanise him to ensure he did not suffer.
“Although we know he had a long and happy life here at Redwings, we are still devastated to lose this incredibly special chap,” Redwings chief executive Lynn Cutress said.
“He just had a way of capturing hearts. Even after his retirement, people still continued adopting him in their droves.
“He was so friendly and sweet and he had become such a ‘mascot’ for Redwings.”
“This year is the 30th anniversary of our formation as a charity and it’s amazing that he has been with us all the way through. Monday was an incredibly sad day for us all, but the sun was shining on his back and he had a peaceful end in the place that he loved.”