Supreme Champion Pony and Rehomer Beat the Odds Together
World Horse Welfare Hercules crowned Supreme Champion in charity’s annual Rehomed Horse of the Year Awards
Rescue pony, World Horse Welfare Hercules has been crowned Supreme Champion in the charity’s annual Rehomed Horse of the Year Awards thanks to his incredible will to survive and his role in helping his rehomer, Alison overcome breast cancer.
Hercules arrived at World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm in 2011 with chronic grass sickness, an illness which gave him just a two per cent chance of survival. Thanks to the dedicated team at World Horse Welfare and Hercules’ fighting spirit he made a full recovery, well and truly earning his warrior name.
Alison Ironside rehomed Hercules as a three year old, continuing his education and then backing him to ride.
Alison said: “In March 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and after various surgeries, treatments, drugs, plus many months sat in a chair I decided that it was time I started riding again. Out of all my ponies I knew that Hercules was the one I could trust to look after me in my very weak state. In true caring fashion, even at his young age, Hercules seemed to understand the situation – patiently and carefully carrying me around the lanes never putting a foot wrong, never spooking at anything, never pulling on the rains and never pushing me when I was on the ground getting him ready.
“He is a pony that took a lot to save but he is a pony that has given everything he can back.”
Former Olympic gold-medallist and eventing legend, Jane Holderness-Roddam awarded Hercules the top spot in the awards’ ‘Faithful Friend’ category, saying:
“I have chosen Hercules because despite being a bit of a wild child himself, he appeared to recognise and respond to his owners needs when she was ill and curtailed his natural exuberance throughout her rehabilitation, probably because he understood how important it was to fight to survive. This inbuilt sensitivity shows true friendship”
Hercules was then chosen to receive the ‘Supreme Champion’ accolade by World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers who was inspired by Alison and Hercules’ story. He said:
“I found Alison and Hercules’ story really moving. Their bond of trust epitomises the close relationship between horse and owner and whilst we had so many fantastic entries, I feel that Hercules has well and truly earned his ‘Supreme Champion’ award.”
Photo: Alison and Hercules at home jumping
World Horse Welfare’s annual Rehomed Horse of the Year competition invited nominations from its 1,700 World Horse Welfare horses and ponies currently out in homes around the country, celebrating their stories as part of its Rehome a Horse Month. Three categories were open for entries including; Funniest Anecdote, Biggest Achievement and Faithful Friend.
Photo: Wally with his award
The winner of the Funniest Anecdote was World Horse Welfare Wally, a horse awarded the title by Olympic dressage rider, Richard Davison, thanks to this tendencies of stealing his rehomer’s walking stick, grinning for a peppermint and peeing on command. Richard said: “I just loved the images of Wally peeing on command, and removing Dad’s walking stick. It must be chaotic ensuring Wally pees precisely on cue, while Dad is sending Maydays from halfway down the field because his walking stick has been removed. What must the neighbours think?”
Photo: Wally smiling for the camera with his rosette
The winner of the Biggest Achievement category was World Horse Welfare Su who has not only been a faithful family pony but has also given hundreds of disabled children the chance to experience the joys of riding thanks to her long service of 16 years with Riding for the Disabled. Olympic eventer and World Horse Welfare Patron Pippa Funnell MBE crowned Su the category winner. Pippa said: “In the end, Su pipped it for me because she has clearly helped so many people through her long experience at the RDA, and that kind of life-changing achievement may not be recognised elsewhere. Her story really choked me up when I think of all the people she has helped.”
Photo: World Horse Welfare Su with her rossette and long service award
World Horse Welfare marked a 10 year record last year with 300 horses rehomed – and the charity hopes to exceed this number in 2015. World Horse Welfare Deputy Chief Executive and Head of UK, Tony Tyler, said: “We are delighted to see the public’s greater interest in rehoming which is so important to the sustainability of our work in helping horses. We have worked hard to promote the variety and quality of our horses and ponies as well as the genuine advantages of rehoming over buying or breeding. Our rehoming scheme groups horses into several categories dependant on their age, experience and suitability for different activities and covers everything from non-ridden companions to those with potential to make competition horses. “
You can find out more about rehoming at: http://rehoming.worldhorsewelfare.org/