A pony from a Deeside rehabilitation centre has won a national title.
Ru, originally from Belwade Farm, near Aboyne, and his rehomer impressed celebrity judges at World Horse Welfare’s annual Rehomed Horse of the Year 2019 competition.
His owner, Jackie Robertson, won the Unbreakable Bond category which celebrates the close and long-term link between a rehomer and horse.
Jackie was presented with the award at the British Horse Foundation Awards Dinner and Ceremony in London last month.
Belwade Farm is one of four World Horse Welfare rescue and rehoming centres.
Ru used to be called World Horse Welfare Windy, then Ruith, and has been with Jackie for 24 of his 26 years.
The pony was initially her daughter’s horse, but Jackie decided to get in the saddle herself about ten years ago.
The time came when Ru was no longer fit enough to carry a rider and she began taking him out for daily walks in order to keep his arthritic joints moving.
Jackie, who is from the Fife area, explained: “We walk along together, two old codgers side by side, with Ru occasionally nudging me with his nose, or stopping to scratch on a tree or nibble a leaf.
“It’s a privilege to share and enrich his twilight years and try to repay some of the joy that he’s brought me over the years.
“Hopefully he’ll be with us for a few more yet.”
Category judge Sara Cox, Radio 2 DJ and World Horse Welfare patron, was impressed with all the nominees but was particularly taken by Jackie and Ru’s story.
She said: “It really warmed the cockles of my heart.
“Not only is it the longest relationship but I really loved how the friendship has evolved over the years - from a two-year-old who developed into a great horse for Jackie’s daughter to ride.
“Then hacking pal and confidence-giver to Jackie herself before the two of them hung up the saddle to become walking chums and companions.”
Sara added: “It’s the dream really, to have a horse that grows with you and remains forever a much-loved and treasured member of the family and, to celebrate that, I think Jackie and Ru are very worthy winners.”
The three category winners are being put forward for international showjumper Joe Stockdale to decide the Supreme Champion Rehomed Horse of the Year, which will be announced later in the Spring.