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Rescue Pony and Rehomer Celebrate 20 Year Friendship
Hampshire rehomer, Barbara, first saw rescue pony Sophie on the TV programme Pet Rescue in 1998 and it was love at first sight. Since then, the pair have been inseparable with Sophie playing a central role in family life and helping Barbara through the death of her husband – remaining a constant source of strength and loyal companionship.
Sophie has now been awarded the accolades of both Best Friend and Rehomed Horse of the Year in World Horse Welfare’s annual competition thanks to her incredible dedication to Barbara and their enduring friendship over the years.
Barbara tells their story:
“When I rehomed Sophie, it was at a time when my children had grown up and I thought, ‘now it's my turn to have a pony!’. My father used to drive horses and I had always wanted to give it a go as my riding days were gone so this was the ideal opportunity. My friend Jon trained Sophie to pull a carriage and she took to it beautifully, even going on to beat Jon and his horse at the Windsor Drive.
“Sophie has taught so many in riding and driving from tots to teens. My grandchildren have all learnt to ride thanks to Sophie and have been there, done it and got the t-shirt in all Pony Club activities from games to fancy dress.
- Sophie with Barbara and her grandson
“My husband and I would often drive out together and I’d drop him off at the pub, go out for a long drive around the common then pick him up on the way back. One day, Sophie and I had a bad accident whilst out driving which left me stranded with a badly damaged knee and unable to call for help. Sophie trotted off back the way we’d come, carefully crossed the main road and went to stand outside the pub where she knew we’d left my husband earlier in the day to alert him that something was wrong. For some time after she was very nervous but knew she needed to take care of me and we rebuilt our confidence together.
“I lost my husband in 2012 and it was Sophie who got me through this very tough time, we talked a lot and had lots of hugs. Having to get up and out each day caring for Sophie and my rescue dog kept me active and gave me a purpose and reason to keep going.
- Sophie and Barbara have been together for 20 years
“I’m now 72 and Sophie has been so good as we’ve grown old together. We still go out for drives although climbing onto the trap takes me a bit of time but Sophie always looks round to check I’m on and ready before she sets off.
“Sophie has been my best friend and soul mate, giving me a reason to get on with life no matter what it throws at us.”
Sophie was chosen as the winner of the Best Friend category by World Horse Welfare Patron and Radio DJ, Sara Cox, who said:
“I think Sophie and her owner Barbara should win, such an enduring friendship - 20 years! I love that with Barbara, Sophie has affected so many lives in such a positive way - from teaching little ones riding to pulling the Santa sleigh around the village at Christmas.
“When Barbara was devastated by the loss of her husband I found it very touching that Sophie got her through it.
- Sophie learning how to drive with Barbara
“I love the idea of Sophie looking round and patiently waiting until Barbara is sitting down properly before they set off on their adventures. A great story of true friendship, a real partnership and proof that horses and their owners can stick together through thick and thin no matter what life throws at them.”