Barley, the oldest resident at The Home of Rest for Horses in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, was put down recently aged 43 years.

The bay gelding, who was born in 1961, retired to the centre in 1993 when his owner was no longer able to look after him.

“He was an incredibly friendly and affable horse,” says Susan Lewis of The Home of Rest for Horses. “He was hugely popular with visitors and always recognised when it was time to come and meet people. He is sadly missed by both staff and visitors.”

Barley, who appeared on the Channel 4 series Pet Rescue, became notorious within The Home of Rest for Horses when he developed a taste for Guinness.

“He was away on some of our other land for the summer,” explains Susan, “and when he came back he seemed a bit under the weather. Sometimes old people are fed Guinness to make them feel better, so we decided to try it with him. He really took to it and became strong and lively. He never looked his age, and was magnificent on Pet Rescue.”

The bay gelding died within two weeks of his two closest companions, Wrangler, 33 and Trixie, 34. “Perhaps he died from a broken heart,” speculates Susan. “They were all what we call ‘old favourites’, and had been with us for a long time.”

The centre now has several competitors for the oldest resident title among its 120 residents, although none are as venerable as Barley. Big John, Luke, Lady and Champagne are all 36 years old, while Yeti, an ex-household cavalry horse is 35.

For further information about The Home of Rest for Horses, or to make a donation, visit: www.homeofrestforhorses.co.uk