Strawberry roan Welsh pony Smartie was rescued by Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the RSPCA from a farm in Wales in 2009, where a total of 72 horses were found in terrible condition. All were discovered in an upsetting state of neglect, some emaciated and many suffering from rainscald and parasites.
Smartie was among 13 of the rescued horses rehomed to Redwings. His charming character and gentle nature meant once he had recovered he was a perfect candidate for the charity’s rehoming programme. And it was through Redwings Guardianship Scheme that Smartie met Jennie Brooker and her daughter Jess Spooner.
At the time of joining his new family, Jess had been suffering from severe anxiety as a result of bullying – the distress from which had led to her being admitted to hospital.
Over time, the family noticed that the pony they had rescued was actually helping them! Smartie helped Jess to overcome her anxiety and rebuild her confidence. His kind and gentle nature proved a stable and calming influence for Jess and within 12 months Jess was discharged from hospital and back at school.
Now 16-years-old, Jess has completed her GCSEs and has her sights set on a career as a veterinary surgeon. The special and transformative friendship of Smartie and Jess has also inspired mum Jennie to set up her own animal therapy business with the aim to help others overcome challenges with anxiety.
“We are so proud of Smartie,” commented Education and Campaigns Officer Andie Vilela. “Through our rehoming programme we hope to give our rescue horses a second chance at a happy and fulfilling life, so it is so lovely to see that Smartie has also given Jess a new lease of life too. We wish Jess every success with her continued studies and Jennie with her new business venture!“