A cheeky Shetland has become an internet sensation after footage of him galloping across the wilds of New Zealand went viral.
Geoffry The Conqueror enjoys galloping free-range along beaches, through woods and across open spaces with his equine, human and canine friends.
The huge uninhabited expanses of the country mean owner Rachael Jenks is able to let Geoffry and some of her other horses run free with her when she rides out.
The chestnut Shetland joins her at least three to four times a week and they sometimes cover 20-25km.
“He has absolutely no trouble keeping up and in fact leads most of the way,” Rachael told H&H.
It was thanks to being left home alone with NZ$200 (£110) emergency money from her parents that Geoffry came to be in Rachael’s life.
She used to ride with Geoffry’s former owner and spotted the advert for the pint-sized pony on the internet.
She thought there could be no harm in going to see him and within half an hour had handed over the emergency money.
While her parents were initially not particularly pleased to find another pony in the field on their return, they soon came round to the idea.
“Geoffry is pretty cheeky and has a very big personality — like most miniatures,” she said.
“However unlike a lot of them he is very sweet. The second you sit down in the paddock, he knows it is scratch time and will come up and stand beside you and manoeuvre himself around so you can scratch his areas of choice. This isn’t a one-sided activity — he returns the favour by scratching your hair or back.”
She added one of her good friends recently had a fall out riding and Geoffry was giving her “affectionate nudges” up and down her back while looking “genuinely concerned” until help arrived.
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The tiny pony is well known within the horsey community of Warkworth, where he lives with Rachael’s four other horses, and it was his local fame that sparked the idea of starting his own Facebook page.
“I really didn’t expect much as having Geoffry along for the rides is so normal to me now I didn’t really see why others would be interested,” said Rachael. “But now at almost 30,000 likes, I have been proved wrong!
“The amount of views and comments on his page has been phenomenal.”
She decided to attach her GoPro Hero 5 camera to Geoffry to “see what he is doing” while he is out riding with them and thought it would be fun to see the world from his perspective.
After trying a few different methods, she has found that attaching it to a specially-adapted child’s saddle gives the best footage.
“Geoffry isn’t the only one to come loose, I normally take three wherever I go, riding one, two loose,” said Rachael, adding that her two Dachshund cross dogs also join them.
“His favourite companion is Sterling, a 17.1hh grey Shire cross. When they are loose together they are off exploring all nooks and crannies — galloping ahead, jumping fallen logs, bush-bashing, swimming — all by choice, but they never stray too far, and when we are out of site, they will coming galloping back.
“This has taken Sterling from an un-surefooted goofy gelding, to quite a grown-up man who I trust to make good decisions while out riding. Geoffry has taught him a lot.
“We are just so lucky to have so many areas nowhere near roads or other people where we can do this.”
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