A much-loved rescue pony has died 27 years after arriving at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Icky, the face of the charity’s adoption scheme for more than 20 years, was put down on 27 July.

He had been destined for slaughter when he was rescued from a sale in 1991.

The pony was extremely thin with a severe worm burden and was terrified of people, but with careful handling he overcame his fears and grew to be friendly and loving.

At the start of this year, he started to find it difficult to maintain his weight and was moved to Redwings’ equine hospital.

Vets discovered he was unable to absorb glucose and nutrients effectively due to problems with his small intestine.

This led to several bouts of colic and the charity made the difficult decision to put him to sleep last month to ensure he did not suffer.

“We’re terribly sad to lose Icky who has been such a wonderful ambassador for Redwings,” said chief executive Lynn Cutress.

“He was adored by his carers and supporters – some of whom had been sponsoring and visiting him year in, year out for over 20 years.

“In fact, when Icky had to spend his 30th birthday in our horse hospital earlier this year, he received so many get well cards we almost ran out of space to put them up in his stable.

“Despite being a registered spotted pony, this wasn’t enough to stop Icky from being neglected when he was young, which shows that cruelty can happen to any horse or donkey in spite of their desirability.

“As one of our longest-serving adoption stars, Icky helped to raise thousands of pounds in sponsorship for himself and his companions at the sanctuary, giving even more neglected ponies, like he was once, the chance to start a new and happy life.

“What a fantastic legacy to leave! Thank you, Icky, we’ll never forget you.”

A memorial fund has been set up in Icky’s name to raise money for the charity.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday