‘Warming the cockles of my heart’: rehomed horses celebrated with awards

  • The special bond between rehomed horses and their humans have been celebrated with awards.

    Three rescued and rehomed horses captivated celebrity judges’ hearts to win their categories in World Horse Welfare’s annual Rehomed Horse of the Year 2019 competition.

    The categories were “unbreakable bond”, “in the picture” and “I wasn’t expecting that!”, focusing on the bond the horses have with their rehomers. The winners were announced this week (31 January).

    Ruith, known as Ru to his friends, and his rehomer Jackie Robertson won the unbreakable bond category, judged by Sara Cox.

    Ru, 26, has been with Jackie for 24 years and was initially known as World Horse Welfare Windy. He was ridden by Jackie and her daughter, and now his ridden career has come to an end, he enjoys daily walks.

    “We walk along together, two old codgers side by side, with Ru occasionally nudging me with his nose, or stopping to scratch on a tree or nibble a leaf,” said Jackie.

    “It’s a privilege to share and enrich his twilight years and try to repay some of the joy that he’s brought me over the years — hopefully he’ll be with us for a few more yet.

    “Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate Ru.”

    Sara said she loved all the unbreakable bond nominees, but Ru’s story “warmed the cockles of my heart”.

    “Not only is it the longest relationship but I really loved how the friendship has evolved over the years,” she said. “It’s the dream really, to have a horse that grows with you and remains for ever a much-loved and treasured member of the family and, to celebrate that, I think Jackie and Ru are very worthy winners.”

    Annie Weir and World Horse Welfare Nettle won the in the picture category, judged by photographer Matthew Seed, for the moment Nettle enjoyed her first Polo.

    “She loved her first Polo, but at first it was a weird sensation for her and she made this very funny face!” said Annie.

    “She has been so sweet since the day she arrived and has made many more lovely funny faces, which we unfortunately have not managed to capture on camera.”

    Rene Dewhurst and “cheeky chappie” World Horse Welfare Sam took the final category, judged by YouTube star ThisEsme.

    Rene works for TheHorseCourse, a leader in equine-assisted human therapy using horsemanship to address troubled individuals and troublesome behaviour. Sam is one of the horses used in this therapy.

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    Rene said he is “much loved for his sense of humour”.

    “He’s invaluable for motivating those hard-to-engage participants because they are stuck in conventional talk-based therapies,” she said.

    “I can trust Sam to get them smiling despite their own challenges. He’s particularly keen on playing ‘football’ with a big green ball and has developed a habit of kicking it, then deciding it was just the thing to do a somersault rolypoly over – a trick that never fails to raise a laugh in even the most anxious and depressed participant.

    “If that doesn’t work to make them smile, he’ll try using the tops of cones to give his tummy a good scratch or just empty the grooming box one brush at a time in search of a treat. If nothing else is going on he’ll put himself on the pedestal in the hopes of a tasty reward or just to make a point. He’s the class clown and we all love him for it!”

    Showjumper Joe Stockdale will choose the supreme champion rehomed horse of the year in the spring.

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