Twenty-six-year-old Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) pony Topsy has retired to the The Horse Trust’s sanctuary in Buckinghamshire after 19 years’ service.

The 14.3hh skewbald mare had worked at the New Yatt RDA in North Leigh, West Oxfordshire since 1992.

She provided riding sessions to children and adults with physical and learning disabilities, as well as taking part in sponsored rides and local shows to raise money for the group.

Topsy even performed for the Princess Royal, who opened the RDA group’s new centre in 1996.

Pat Kelly, a volunteer with New Yatt RDA, said Topsy had the perfect temperament to be an RDA pony.

“Topsy was very patient with our disabled riders and loved being made a fuss of,” said Pat.

“She was good with nervous riders and would stand calmly by the mounting blocks even if they took a long time to get on.

“Riding can give disabled people more confidence and a new view of life. Some of our riders are in a wheelchair where they get used to looking up at people.

“When they are on a horse, they see the world from a higher perspective and can move around freely,” added Pat.

The New Yatt RDA group needed to retire Topsy from active service as she has developed ringbone in her front legs.

“The ringbone made her a bit pottery and we couldn’t risk her tripping when she had a rider on her,” said Pat. “I’m absolutely over the moon she’s gone to The Horse Trust — it’s such a lovely place for her to spend the rest of her days.”

Jeanette Allen, chief executive officer of The Horse Trust added: “Providing sanctuary to retired working horses, like Topsy, and giving them a place to pass the last years of their lives is our way of saying thank you to these horses who give such loyal serviceto mankind.”

To donate to The Horse Trust, please visit www.horsetrust.org.uk, or contact the charity on 01494 488 464 or info@horsetrust.org.uk