A rescued colt who had a “sorry start” in life has become a national champion driving pony aged 16.
Yogi and teammate Devon won the tandem class at the British Carriagedriving national championships on 1 September with rehomer Liz Harcombe.
Yogi was taken into the care of World Horse Welfare’s Hill Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre as a two-year-old after he and his field-mate were bought by someone with “very little knowledge” of their background who contacted the charity for advice.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Both ponies were unhandled, entire and being kept in an over-grazed paddock next to a field of mares. The owner eventually agreed that it was in the ponies’ best interests to be signed over to the charity.
“Yogi was extremely nervous of any human contact on arrival but with consistent, patient handling from his groom, his confidence began to develop. In time Yogi was ready for rehoming as a youngster to continue his handling and education on the ground.”
The spokesman said Yogi was rehomed by Amy Last and his potential “swiftly became apparent” .
“Amy started his training as a driving pony and quickly realised he had some real talent,” he said.
“Driving two ponies became extremely time-consuming for Amy so she asked her friend Liz Harcombe if she would be interested in helping to bring on Yogi’s schooling and drive him at competitions from 2008.”
The spokesman said when Yogi was 10 Liz decided to try him as a tandem leader to his young teammate Devon to give him time to develop in strength and confidence.
“Since then the team have gone from strength to strength taking part in countless displays and competing in driving trials all over the country,” he said.
“The 2019 national championships was Yogi and Devon’s first three-day event and it’s safe to say both ponies rose to the challenge magnificently.”
The spokesman added that Yogi may have had a “sorry start” in life but he has not let it stop him.
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The two ponies have made incredible transformations after arriving in the charity’s care in 2018
The charity discovered the foal in freezing temperatures and ‘incredibly weak’ in October 2014
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Liz said Yogi and Devon put in an “amazing” performance on the final day of the competition.
“I couldn’t ask more of them; they tried their socks off and coped so well with the atmosphere and a bit of pressure from me to get it right. There were huge smiles in the lap of honour, a pile of ribbons and a tear or two from me.
“I doubt the ponies care too much about the rosettes, trophy and national title but they loved the chance to buck and kick and roll when we got home like nothing had happened. Who would have thought that a little nervous unwanted two-year-old could be national champion at 16 and still have years left. Yogi is truly my pony of a lifetime.”
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