The Horse Trust has paid tribute to former Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) pony, Gemma, who has passed away aged 32.
Gemma arrived at charity in 2012 following 15 years of service for the RDA at Gaddesden Place.
Gemma helped many children learn to ride and competed in RDA dressage events and Pony Club shows with disabled riders, including partnering a blind rider who rode independently, together achieving brilliant results.
After retiring from RDA, Gemma spent nine years with The Horse Trust.
“Gemma was so friendly and great with children that she regularly came into our grooming area on visitor days where our younger supporters were able to pet and groom her, and where they too fell in love with the beautiful mare, just as we did the moment we first met her,” said a Horse Trust spokesman.
“Gemma was always easy to spot as she stood out due to her stunning appearance as a cremello with a lovely cream coat. She became close friends with our military mare Zepce who helped us look after Gemma in her final year with us.
“Last year Gemma sadly lost her eyesight due to aging changes in her retina but her loving friendship and close bond with friend Zepce allowed her to continue to enjoy her time a little longer with us. Zepce aided Gemma by acting as a guide horse for her through the Spring and Summer months.
“It broke our hearts when after some time, Gemma began to become more and more disorientated. Although Zepce was by her side and of comfort to her, Gemma was clearly becoming more distressed.
“It was at this point that we knew we had to say our heart-breaking goodbyes to this precious little pony who we had come to love and care for so dearly. We know that this news will also be incredibly upsetting to our many visitors who met and interacted with Gemma over the nine years she was with us.”
The spokesman added that Gemma had lived a “truly inspiring life full of so many people, young and old, who loved [her] so very much.”