At the beginning of this year, the Veteran Horse Society launched their search to find the oldest living pony in Britain. After hundreds of replies, there was one clear winner — Sancho, a 54-year-old 13.2hh Welsh section C gelding.
Elizabeth Saunders, from East Sussex, has owned Sancho for five years, but he originally came to England from Wales 39 years ago. Although he has no papers, there are many people who can confirm that he is well into his 50s, including Elizabeth’s farrier, whose wife learnt to ride on him at the age of eight.
Sancho has lead a full and active life, spending many years in a riding school before being sold on privately. Until a couple of years ago, he was still being gently ridden by Elizabeth’s son Anthony but now Sancho is enjoying a well deservedretirement.
When Mrs Saunders bought Sancho five years ago, he was in a sorry state after having been turned out and not wintered well. With the help of her vet and a family friend they managed to restore him back to full health.
As anelderly equine, Sancho needs specialist care which Elizabeth is happy to give. He gets turned out in a paddock for as long as he wants to and receives five small meals of Mollichaff, pasture mix, sugarbeet, liquidated carrots and apples everyday. However, he is not on any supplements or medications — a testament to the hardiness of the Welsh breeds.
“His sight is going and he is a bit deaf but he still enjoys a good roll in the field,” says Elizabeth. “My motto is: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, which is why, other than oil, he doesn’t get any supplements.
“Sancho still has the majority of his front teeth but he doesn’t have many molars left, so, although he can graze, he can’t cope with hay — which is why he has so many feeds.
“Everyone knows him and he is a much loved member of our family. He has an enormous character and such an attitude problem he really should be called Kevin!”
Julianne Aston Founder of the VHS said: “We had a great response to find the oldest pony and I was simply amazed to hear of Sancho.”
“He is certainly a remarkable pony and I am honoured that he is registered with us and Mrs Saunders is a member – it just goes to show that, even at this age, Sancho’s condition and weight are good and he has an excellent quality of life.”