‘The best £1k I’ve ever spent’: equine personality of the year retires aged 30

  • A pony who “has won the hearts of all who have ridden or worked with her”, and has just retired aged 30, is the 2022 British Horse Society (BHS) equine personality of the year.

    The title, one of a number given every year by the BHS at its annual awards, goes to the horse or pony who has done the most for people.

    Bonny, of Old Mill Stables in Cornwall, has been a riding school and Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) pony for over 20 years.

    “She is such a kind, gentle pony and has taught multiple children to ride,” her citation reads.

    “Bonny is honest, willing, dependable and a joy to ride, groom and tack. She has won the hearts of all who have ridden or worked with her from giving tiny tots confidence and a love of riding, through to opportunities for RDA riders to develop skills and widen their experience – and not least to embed in riders of all ages a love of horses and riding that will last a lifetime. She has given countless riders their first canter, their first hack, their first jump.”

    Old Mill stables owner Lou Ridge told H&H Bonny will stay in the routine she has been in for the past 21 years.

    “She’ll live in the field she’s been in ever since she came off the ramp,” she said. “She won’t go out in any other field; that one’s hers and as horses have come and gone, they’ve gone in with her and she’s nannied them and brought them up properly.

    “She still comes in every morning with her gang, the ones she’s mentoring, and has her feed and a groom. We retired her as we didn’t want her to have the weight on her any more, and we wanted her to have a good retirement, being a horse. That’s what we try to do for all our horses. At the moment, she’s still happy to have a groom, but if she isn’t, that will be fine too.”

    Old Mill Stables, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, is also home to the Southwest Cornwall RDA, in which Bonny has played a huge part.

    “She’s been so many children’s teddy bear, and I’ve found children giving her a hug and having a weep about something that might be going on and she takes it for them,” she said. “She’s an absolute treasure.”

    Lou added that Bonny cost about £1,000 to buy.

    “The best thousand pounds I’ve ever spent,” she said.

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