Final farewell to supreme champion after 23 ‘wonderful years’ in family home

  • The 2019 World Horse Welfare rehomed supreme horse of the year champion has been put down at the age of 25 after more than 23 “wonderful” years in the care of his rehomer.

    World Horse Welfare Windy, known as “Ruith” or “Ru” for short, was born in the care of the charity and taken on as a two-year-old by Jackie Robertson and her young daughter Kate.

    He was recently named as the 2019 supreme rehomed champion by showjumper Joe Stockdale, who selected him from three categories winners because of the incredible, long-term bond he and Jackie shared.

    “Twenty-three years with one family is just incredible. What a lucky horse to have found such a lovely family. I think the story says it all. He’s clearly been a huge part of their lives for the last quarter of a century,” he said at the time.

    Jackie entered the elderly Ru into the competition to celebrate their amazing years together. He received his supreme champion sash just a few weeks ago but subsequently age caught up with him and he started to struggle getting up.

    “Although we’d tried putting him on painkillers on the advice of our wonderful vets, he was still finding it a struggle and he showed that to me very clearly that morning. We were able to say goodbye to him, feeding him more polos than he’d ever seen in his life before, and it was very peaceful on a warm sunny day,” Jackie said.

    “I know this is a decision that we all absolutely dread, but I believe it’s part and parcel of caring for a horse. The last service we can do for them is making the end as peaceful, pain free and loving as possible.”

    When Jackie and her daughter first met Ru, they had visited World Horse Welfare in search of a small pony suitable for driving but fell in love with him instead.

    “It was fate,” Jackie recalled. “We were not looking for a bigger pony, and certainly not an unbroken project, but his calm aura won us over and he came to live with us. He was a dream to train to take a rider, and he and my daughter enjoyed many years of ridden fun together.”

    When her daughter grew up and left home around ten years ago, Jackie took over riding Ru herself. When he became too old to comfortably carry a rider, the pair continued to go for daily walks in hand to help keep his arthritic joints moving.

    “We walked along together, two old codgers side-by-side, with Ru occasionally nudging me with his nose, or stopping to scratch on a tree or nibble a leaf. It’s been a privilege to share and enrich his twilight years and try to repay some of the joy that he’s brought me over the years. It’s been so lovely to find that he’s touched so many people, and his story has resonated,” Jackie added.

    The rehomed horse of the year competition featured three categories, “unbreakable bond”, “in the picture” and “I wasn’t expecting that”. Ru was the winner of the unbreakable bond section, which was originally judged by World Horse Welfare patron Sara Cox.

    “Not only is it the longest relationship but I really loved how the friendship had evolved over the years — from a two-year-old who developed into a great horse for Jackie’s daughter to ride, then hacking pal and confidence-giver to Jackie herself before the two of them hung up the saddle to become walking chums and companions,” she said.

    “The line ‘two old codgers side-by-side’ really made me smile. It’s the dream really, to have a horse that grows with you and remains forever a much-loved and treasured member of the family and, to celebrate that, I think Jackie and Ru are very worthy winners.”

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