A COLT who was discovered dumped in a field has taken on a new career at a special needs school having been trained by Catherston Stud.
Loddon School secretary Pippa Monro contacted the stud’s Anne Dicker after finding the black, heavily feathered cob in a field with her Shetlands.
“One of the secretaries from the school my son went to phoned up to ask if we could help,” said Anne, who estimated the pony was about two.
“We put him in isolation for a while and spoke nicely to our vets McGonnell and Gillatt who did us a very good rate to have him castrated!” said Anne.
“We have a Sarkite apprentice here who has driven tourists on Sark for years and she was given the job of breaking him to harness and ridden.
“It took about a month and a half to be able to catch him in the field. Now he’s three and trots beautifully round the field and drives.
“I think he’s fallen on his feet and gone to heaven compared to what his life could have been like!”
The pony, who was named Murphy, was delivered to the school near Sherfield-on-Loddon, Hook last week.
The school is home to 28 pupils aged between eight and 18 with severe and complex learning difficulties.
Loddon principal Gill Barrett said Murphy was settling in well with the school’s existing ponies and donkeys and would have a home for life.
“I’ve been to meet him and he seems lovely and calm,” she said.
“We already have one pony, Bonbon, who the children ride occasionally and he is getting a little bit old. We also have two donkeys we foster from the Donkey Sanctuary and a Shetland that was donated by a member of staff.”
Murphy is likely to take over duties giving pony and trap rides to the pupils as well as contributing to other aspects of their pet therapy programme.
“With the donkeys, the children take them for walks around the field — because they are larger, we find they are better than dog walking as they don’t startle the children so much,” Gill explained.
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“The pony carting helps them learn to wear the correct equipment, as autistic children can be quite sensitive and even wearing a heavy hat can be a problem.
“They do mucking out and grooming, and once they get used to the animals here, some of the children will also go on to sessions with the RDA.”