In England, horse and pony lovers are mourning the loss of Gemma, a cremello pony who passed away at the age of 32 after spending nine years in retirement at The Horse Trust. But these same people are also celebrating Gemma’s life as an “incredibly faithful and reliable” pony who brought joy to many at Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

Gemma arrived at The Horse Trust in 2012, a U.K. charity that provides a home for rescued and retired work horses, and she quickly became an incredibly popular resident and member of The Horse Trust family. Before retiring, Gemma spent 15 years with Gaddesden Place RDA, where she lovingly helped many children with disabilities learn to ride and provided countless hours of fun and enjoyment to the children. During her time at the RDA, Gemma also competed in dressage shows and Pony Club events with disabled riders aboard.

And the pony found new life and purpose at The Horse Trust. “During her retirement 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,” a written tribute from The Horse Trust read.

And much to the delight of Horse Trust visitors and staff, Gemma befriended another horse, Zepce, a retired military mare.

“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,” the statement continued.

Sadly, Gemma became “more distressed,” and the decision was made to say goodbye to the little pony.

“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.”

The Horse Trust wrote in a tribute to the pony, “Gemma, we are so incredibly sad to have had to say goodbye. You were the kindest, most gentle and loving pony we could have wished to care for over the last nine years. You had a truly inspiring life full of so many people, young and old, who loved you so very much. You were a complete sweetheart, and we are absolutely heartbroken to say goodbye. RIP gentle Gemma, you really were one very special pony.”

The Horse Trust was founded in 1886 and is the world’s oldest equine charity. For 135 years it has provided a place of rest and retirement for working horses. The have been in involved in some largescale rescues that have made headlines in the U.K.

The Horse Trust cares for over 100 retired and rescued horses. In addition to the home, there is a centre of excellence in horse care, where The Horse Trust can demonstrate and share best practice in horse care and welfare.

Click here to learn more about The Horse Trust and to make a donation.