Sadness at death of Hector – one of Britain's oldest Shetland ponies
ONE of Britain's oldest Shetland ponies has died at his home in Notts.
The stables at Fairview Farm in Ravenshead are known for breeding and training top-flight show horses.
But for visitors who flock there on weekends for lessons, one of its most popular inhabitants was Hector, the little pony who would hang out around the farm's cafe waiting for a handout of his favourite treat – Polo mints.
Debbie Cox's family bought him more than four decades ago and, although they can't be sure of his exact, age, it is believed he was either 45 or 46.
Anything beyond 30 is considered old age for a horse or pony. In human years, Hector would have been more than 120 years old.
There are no records for the oldest Shetland Pony, but according to the Shetland Pony Stud Book Society it's almost unheard of for one to live into their 40s.
For families who rode at Fairview Farm through the years, a toddler's first equine experience was often being lowered on to Hector's back.
"People who come to us were bringing us grandchildren to come and see him," said Debbie, the farm's owner.
At Fairview, he could go where he liked.
"He just roamed everywhere," Debbie said. "He'd not been in the field for years because all the bigger horses chased him."
So instead he made friends with the humans.
And if farmhouse doors were left open, he'd make himself at home.
"He was always in the kitchen," Debbie said. "He never, ever made a mess as he was house-trained."
Hector's habits became part of the farm's daily rhythm. In his last decade he lost his teeth and could no longer eat hay. Instead, every morning he'd go to the back door and tap on the door, wanting bread.
After Hector's death, they took him to a hillside on the farm.
"We buried him here with his mum," Deb said. "She died about seven years ago."
Then there's Tia, the Shetland Pony they bought to keep Hector company after his mum died. She followed Hector everywhere. She's been lost since his death.
"She was lonely, she was pining," Debbie said. "I've got another one called KitKat. And Tia likes him."