Algernon (or Algy as he’s affectionately known here) is our beautiful, rescued gypsy pony. Sadly, we don’t know much about Algy’s background, apart from the fact that he was passed around from dealer to dealer. Luckily, a kind-hearted woman rescued Algy and nursed the skinny, underweight boy back to health for nine months.
As you may expect, Algy’s behaviour was abnormal when he first arrived. He was a compulsive eater, aggressive to other horses and extremely protective over his food. This, along with his size, told us he’d likely never been regularly fed resulting in a high level of stress response around food. He also found it hard to relax – due to his compulsive eating habits he couldn’t sleep in the field and was relieved to come into an empty stable so he could sleep, without the compulsion to eat. By giving him little and often it allowed him to lose weight, sleep, gain routine and regularity with out ever getting hungry, that fed his stress about food. We think this is likely how he was used to living before – so we made it our job to make sure Algy would learn that life could be a lot more comfortable with us here at Far From.
Any being that’s been through pain needs one thing – time. And that’s exactly what we gave to our boy. We immediately removed the possibility of Algy having a job as he just wasn’t ready; he needed to rest, recover, and get used to his new life. So, we gave him 13 acres to enjoy (as well as the odd adventure in the 25 acres at the top of the retreat), companionship in Benjamin the Gentle Giant, and a comfortable, warm stable. For the first two years, we stabled him during the day, ensuring he was happy and gave him a controlled, regular diet. Over time Algy learned that he didn’t need to be protective over his food and that we’d care for him. Now, he can enjoy food without the stress that came from his old, learned behaviours – and he even occasionally leaves some food! What a success.
Fast forward to today, Algy’s a totally different pony. Calm, relaxed and docile, he’s our ‘dope on a rope.’ He enjoys a canter out in the fields and takes joy in jumping the old field boundaries. The most rewarding part for us is when we groom Algy – it’s clear he loves every second! To continue improving Algy’s quality of life, we’re considering whether he’s ready for some light work. We want to make sure he thoroughly enjoys his life with us, so we’ll be taking it slow and making sure our Algy is happy at every stage.