Riding for the Disabled pony dies aged 32 after ‘truly inspiring life’

  • An “incredibly faithful and reliable” Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) pony who provided “countless hours of fun” has died aged 32.

    Gemma served 15 years with Gaddesden Place RDA before retiring to enjoy her twilight years at the Horse Trust in 2012.

    A Horse Trust spokesman remembered how she “quickly became an incredibly popular resident and member of the family”.

    “At Gaddesden Place, Gemma lovingly helped many children with disabilities learn to ride and provided countless hours of fun and enjoyment to the children,” he said.

    “She also competed in RDA dressage events and Pony Club shows with disabled riders including partnering a fully blind rider who rode independently, together achieving brilliant and inspiring results. Gemma is remembered by Gaddesden Place as being an incredibly faithful and reliable pony.”

    She spent nine years at the Horse Trust, where she was very popular with staff and visitors.

    Here we got to know and love the incredibly kind and gentle pony that she was,” added the spokesman.

    “Gemma was so friendly and great with children that she regularly came into our grooming area on visitor days where our younger supporters were able to pet and groom her, and where they too fell in love with the beautiful mare, just as we did the moment we first met her.”

    The cremello pony was instantly recognisable with her cream coat and became close friends with a retired military mare, Zepce.

    “Last year Gemma sadly lost her eyesight due to aging changes in her retina but her loving friendship and close bond with friend Zepce allowed her to continue to enjoy her time a little longer with us. Zepce aided Gemma by acting as a guide horse for her through the spring and summer,” the spokesman added.

    “It broke our hearts when, after some time, Gemma began to become more and more disorientated.

    “Although Zepce was by her side and of comfort to her, Gemma was clearly becoming more distressed. It was at this point that we knew we had to say our heart-breaking goodbyes to this precious little pony who we had come to love and care for so dearly.”

    The tribute remembered her as a “gentle” and “very special pony”.

    “Gemma, we are so incredibly sad to have had to say goodbye,” it said. “You were the kindest, most gentle and loving pony we could have wished to care for over the last nine years. You had a truly inspiring life full of so many people, young and old, who loved you so very much. You were a complete sweetheart and we are absolutely heartbroken to say goodbye.”

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