Miniature pony dies after 24 years as a friend to disabled
A veteran therapy pony at a charity for the disabled has died after almost a quarter of a century helping others.
Tilly, a miniature pony, died last Wednesday at Warwick-based outdoor activities centre WindReach.
A spokeswoman for WindReach said that Tilly had arrived at WindReach in 1997 and had been “a gem of a therapist ever since” to thousands of visitors.
She added: “Tilly was their mentor and gentle teacher as she helped to facilitate sessions on animal husbandry and fostered the human animal bond.
“There were many first-time experiences with Tilly helping to teach our participants how to engage with animals and understand non-verbal cues and communication.”
The spokeswoman said that Tilly small stature helped many visitors to the centre relate to her.
She added: “Many of Tilly’s students were shoulder to shoulder with her in height and it was magical to to witness the interactions that she had with them.”
The spokeswoman said Tilly bonded with another of the centre’s fixtures, Eeyore, a donkey.
One long-serving WindReach staff member said Eeyore staged a breakout after they had been on the job for just a week.
The staffer added: “Tilly’s bestie cheekily escaped. Before he made his mad dash for the lower fields, he opened Till’s stall, beckoning her to join him.
“Tilly glanced at me for a brief second, almost daring me to question her loyalty to Eeyore, and off she went.
“She was such a loyal friend, co-worker and community partner.”
The spokeswoman added: “Although a mini, she had the personality of a giant.
“Her presence resonated throughout the Animal Zone among, not just her herd, but each individual that came through the gate.”
She said that Tilly could transform into a “racing pony” when she was released into the charity’s sand arena.
The spokeswoman added: “She would be seen galloping at full tilt and leaping into the air.
“It was such a perfect example of her spirit and joy for life.”
Tilly was donated to Windreach by Moyra Benbow in 1997 and the spokeswoman said the memory of Tilly would live on.
Donations to celebrate Tilly’s memory, which will be used to fund educational and therapeutic programmes, can be made to the WindReach HSBC account 010-857621-001.