‘He was everyone’s favourite’: heartbreak as 32-year-old RDA pony dies

Tributes have been paid to a popular Riding for the Disabled (RDA) pony who gave 27 years of service doing what he loved.

Willie, of the Gordon RDA group in Aberdeenshire, died on 2 October from colic aged 32.

Volunteer groom Susan Gordon told H&H part-bred Highland Willie joined the charity as a five-year-old in 1992, so was the centre’s longest-serving resident.

“He was bought from the market when he was four and joined RDA the following year,” she said.

“He was everyone’s favourite and a real character. He would bang his stable door for attention, he wanted to be the most important person on the yard – and he was.”

Susan said Willie loved his work with children.

“He was totally trustworthy with any child big or small – they could go off the lead-rein and you would have no worries with Willie. The one thing he didn’t like to do was standing in line and he would push the helpers and walk round in circles but once the kids were on him he was absolutely perfect. ”

Susan said Willie’s workload had been reduced over the past five years but he was always fit and sound.

“He took part at the RDA Grampian and Highland regional qualifiers in 2017 and won both his dressage classes. He loved an audience and applause.” she said.

“He loved what he did and was always enthusiastic, even after summer holidays when some of the others would take a while to get going again.”

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Susan said Willie, who was awarded an RDA long service award in 2017, will be “very hard” to replace.

“He was such a popular person, and he knew it. He was a very special boy. We’ve had so much support from people who have been posting their memories about him online which has been lovely,” she said.

“He was one in a million and the place won’t be the same without him.”

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