Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of getting to know the residents and staff at The Horse Trust in Speen, Buckinghamshire. Set in the rolling landscape of the Chiltern Hills, founded in 1886, it's the oldest horse charity in the world. From supporting horses in the First World War, the trust is now home to retired service horses from both the police and military, as well as taking in working ponies and shires. The team provide these hard-working horses and ponies with the perfect, tranquil environment to enjoy their well-deserved retirement.
At The Horse Trust, they also nurture ponies rescued by the authorities who may have been neglected, abandoned or mistreated. Some of the ponies from the infamous Spindles Farm scandal were taken in to care by The Horse Trust. All of the equines receive the best care from the grooms, volunteers and veterinary specialists and are all given the opportunity to thrive, rest and recover.
One little pony in particular, Teddy, (pictured above) has become quite well known through his daily exploits, published on The Horse Trust's Facebook page:
"Teddy was found abandoned on the roadside at only 6 weeks old, starving and alone with no sign of his mother. He was rescued by Thames Valley Police with the aid of a local councillor and then bought to The Horse Trust. For a week, he received intensive care and many veterinary visits but then his condition went downhill and so he was rushed to the Royal Veterinary College where with round the clock veterinary treatment he fought for his life. Teddy never gave up and thanks to the generosity of our supporters, specialist care of the vets and nurses and team here at The Horse Trust, Teddy was given a second chance. Thankfully, Teddy made a miraculous recovery and is now a happy, healthy and confident young pony, a world away from the tiny, sick and terrified foal that arrived with us. His best friend at the Trust is Uncle George, a 40 years old Shetland pony who took on the role of Teddy’s “godfather” and helped him learn how to be a horse when he was very young. Teddy has since become quite the celebrity, and his many fans all over the world have been able to follow his adventures through his award-winning Facebook blog! "
Teddy is quite used to having his pictures taken these days as his celebrity status grows - he looks an absolute picture. A real credit to the whole team involved in his recovery, he's a loving, confident pony - a firm favourite with both visitors and staff alike. Seeing him today, you'd never have known about the terrible start to life he has had. He's now being worked confidently under saddle, and enjoys going out on hacks with some of the other rescued and rehabilitated ponies.
There are many ways you can fund the continued care for these horses, ponies and donkeys who have served country and community, or those, just like Teddy who were in need of rescuing: Many of the residents can be sponsored, or one off donations can be made - you can even get married there!
Why not come and meet these wonderful animals yourself - The Horse Trust is open again to visitors from the 1st February, Thursday-Sunday 2-4pm and Bank Holiday Mondays; the Black Beauty Cafe will be serving hot and cold drinks as well as their amazing cakes!