A small pony is led into the nursing home bedroom of a lady who is partially sighted. Her carer quietly explains that she has a visitor…within seconds her face lights up and she reaches out to touch the velvety soft nose and fuzzy mane that belong to Robbie, one special little miniature Shetland. The lady is overwhelmed with joy at being able to touch and most importantly smell the tiny pony who stands calmly beside her bed clearly enjoying all the attention and fuss. Robbie’s presence instantly reminds her of the time that she and her husband kept their own much loved horses on their West Wales farm.  In a world that has started to close in on her and become ever more confusing we all see it suddenly expand with long forgotten memories and experiences that have shaped her whole life. Memories and feelings of warmth, love, laughter, sadness and hardship fill the room…we are all affected by it.  This is the scene I witnessed just a couple of weeks ago and it moved me to tears. I am immensely privileged to be a Volunteer Trustee at Lluest and this particular experience served to remind me why this tiny Welsh charity matters so much. Let me share with you Robbie the pony’s own life story as an example of how truly transforming our work can be.

Robbie was found in 2012 collapsed and starving by the side of a busy Welsh city road. He was close to death when his rescuer Lucy drove past initially mistaking him for a pile of rags. A slight movement made her turn around and go back and what she found was a tiny, emaciated pony barely able to stand and in desperate need of emergency care. Robbie was so small that she was able to lift him onto the back seat of her vehicle to keep him warm while she waited for help.  Robbie’s first few hours were critical as he was regularly collapsing and Lucy slept all night with him in the stable, willing him to pull through. She said ‘he gave the best kisses and we felt he wanted to be with us’ and thanks to her amazing care in those first 24 hours he did pull through and was able to be transported to Lluest.  He very soon moved into his first Guardian home with Barbara who took over his care and was quick to spot his capacity to be calm and comfortable around adults and children. 

Barbara brought Robbie back to full health and also nurtured his talent for working with people taking him along to community events and schools to promote the work of Lluest and highlight the importance of equine welfare.  When Barbara’s circumstances sadly changed she asked if we could find another suitable home for Robbie…we knew just the place. Robbie is now part of a team of ‘therapy animals’ owned by another Lluest Trustee, Ann.

She has gone on to develop Robbie’s talents even further and he has been working alongside youngsters as part of a youth development project. Robbie has only just started his work in nursing homes but has already made an impact on many residents.

He will now go on to share his nursing home visits with best buddy Enoch the donkey  and we are all immensely proud of him and  grateful to new guardian owner Ann for preparing him for this very important work. Without Lluest, Robbie would not be alive today and without regular donations from people like you we cannot continue to transform the lives of more horses and ponies in desperate need. THANK YOU…Rhiannon Pugh, Trustee   


Robbie soon after rescue.