Superhero’ Dusty rides off into the sunset
A “superhero” horse that brought joy to people with special needs for decades has died, a charity announced yesterday.
Christine Kempe, the executive director of the WindReach outdoor centre for the disabled, said Dusty, who was 28, died on Wednesday “comfortable and showered with affection and gratitude”.
She added that Dusty, a 28-year-old Norwegian Fjord horse, was WindReach’s oldest and most famous pony.
Jessica Lewis, an international wheelchair sprinter, was among the hundreds helped by Dusty through the Warwick centre’s therapeutic riding programme.
Ms Kempe said: “When I first met Jessica, she was getting her start at WindReach — she was very into riding and competing.”
She added: “She couldn’t travel with Dusty, which is why she went the route that she took with her wheelchair.”
Ms Kempe said: “He is a WindReach superhero and the responses coming back have been heartwarming.
“It’s almost not reality that we don’t have him. We miss him desperately, and it’s nice to know everybody feels the same.”
Ms Kempe said one young girl who did not speak rediscovered her voice while riding Dusty and “started singing for the first time”.
She said: “It’s a testament to the magic of Dusty. They all have their own gifts and play their own roles — he is a WindReach superhero.”
WindReach, which offers services to people from a wide range of ages and abilities, acquired Dusty in 2000 from the Bermuda Riding for the Disabled programme, which later merged with WindReach.
Dusty, whose original name was Sand Dust, was foaled in New Mexico in the US and was brought to Bermuda with fundraising help from the International Women’s Club.
Ms Kempe said: “Dusty will be remembered as the pony that brought tears to our eyes as he paved the way for many a rider’s firsts with words, firsts with independent walking, firsts with ribbons of confidence.
“WindReach has watched riders grow up with Dusty and we marvel how he instinctually created a wonderful comfort for each and every one by just being himself.”
Sam Hillier, WindReach’s therapeutic riding manager, cared for Dusty with a team of volunteers.
More than 30 people a week found therapy and fun with the horse, but his workload was lessened as he grew older.
Ms Kempe said Dusty left behind stable-mates Garry, Lenny and Bo.
Donations to WindReach to mark Dusty’s contribution will go only to the therapeutic riding programme.
The charity’s HSBC bank account number is 010-857621-001.
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