The owner of a pony thought to be half a century old and still going strong says she sees him as part of her family.
Shetland Bamboo has lost a few teeth, not surprisingly, but is still chipper putting bigger horses in their place at Back on Track Retirement Livery, near Beccles in Norfolk.
Owner Holly Banns told H&H she has owned the coloured gelding for about nine years, since his elderly owner died.
“His little sister came to us too but sadly, she passed away,” she said. “But Bamboo just carries on. He’s lost lots of teeth now but he looks fantastic.”
Holly said that since she took Bamboo in — his name was originally Rambo but she misheard it — she has found out more about his past.
“His owner used to take him to fetes to give rides and we’ve got photos that date it back to him being about 50,” she said. “Then the vet came when he started losing some teeth and thought the same.
“He’s got a little friend who’s nearly 30, and they share a field, and come in when it’s cold. He’s lovely; I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
Holly said Bamboo suffered from a sweet itch-type allergy a few years ago and with his face rubbed, did look more his age.
But having been treated by vets, he recovered and has had no issues since.
“He still eats grass, and hay in winter, and doesn’t have to have any special food; he’s a survivor,” Holly said. “A lot of the older horses are on veteran feed or medication but he doesn’t have any of that. I have started feeding him a balancer but I think that’s more for me than for him, so I feel I’m doing something.
“He holds his own with all the big horses and doesn’t want for anything.”
Bamboo also has a part-time job; Holly also runs a glamping business and if any visiting children have a birthday while they are staying, Bamboo makes a special delivery.
“We put a basket on him and he takes cupcakes round to them,” she said. “He’s got a fake saddle — no one rides him — and we make it all up with flowers and he goes to deliver the cupcakes. He loves it, and he wins everyone’s hearts — and tries to get in the tents!”
Holly is supporting her practice Uplands Way Vets’ Equine Golden Oldies Awareness Month in September.
Vet Sole Guiñon said: “Bamboo really is incredible. The average lifespan for a horse is 20-30 years, so for Bamboo to reach such a grand age is testament to how well his owner cares for him. They always give the practice a call if they’re worried about him, so we can give them the right advice.
“Like many older horses, Bamboo’s teeth are showing signs of wear and tear, and we regularly visit to carry out dental work to keep his mouth comfortable. Last year, he suffered an allergic reaction which caused him to lose some of the hair over his face, but luckily this was resolved with the correct treatment and lots of TLC.”
Holly added that Bamboo is truly one of the family.
“I’ve got four children and he’s in with them,” she said. “I’ve got dogs and horses and I love them, but he’s more like a person.
“He’s hilarious, and so knowing; I think people think it’s strange but I think that’s from so long being around people. He’s amazing, and I’d be lost without him.”
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