‘He is my world’: how a special horse helped his rider deal with grief

  • A former racehorse who is helping his rider deal with her grief has shone a light on the power of the horse-human connection.

    Kerry Humphries met her “absolute world” One Pekan on her “very first day” of her job with top trainer Roger Varian.

    “Pekan is a bit of a character and he can be pretty grumpy in the stable. But I just fell in love with him straight away,” she said.

    “I remember going up to the office, it was in January, and Roger saying that if I would like to have [Pekan] I could have him. I remember saying ‘thank you, Boss, thank you’.

    She left the office and screamed, before running up to the first person she saw and hugging them.

    “He definitely was my favourite, we had a great bond straight away. He really is special to me. He did have me off a couple of times, though, in training – he’s actually had me off more times now!”

    Four years on from that first meeting and their bond is as strong as ever.

    “All the girls here love him, because he is that much of a character. He loves going out into the stubble fields, there’s one we go in where the deer run alongside us,” she said.

    In 2021, Kerry’s mother died unexpectedly, and she has thanked Pekan for being there to help her through.

    “I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting in the stable with him, cuddling him. I just sit in his hay while he munches and he nuzzles me,” she said.

    “He acts like a tough horse, but he knows when I’m down. They know. They can sense it on you. He is the reason I do everything. He is more than just a horse to me, he is my best friend. He is my world.

    “We’ll go out on a hack and I’ll chat away to him about my day. If I’m having a bad day, I can let it all out and he doesn’t judge me.

    “I think everyone who knows Pekan and I do understand what we have done for each other. I’ve given him a home out of racing, and he has helped me in tough times.

    “He is not perfect, he’s definitely got his quirks, but that’s Pekan – that’s the character of him and I wouldn’t have him any other way.”

    Pekan was one of the two runners-up for the Retraining of Racehorses personality of the year award, from more than 200 entries.

    Jockey Hollie Doyle selected the winner, Henri De Boistron, and the riders of all three finalists were present to collect their prizes at the ceremony at the Jockey Club rooms on Saturday (22 January).

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