HUMPHREY of Combebank, a 26 year old dark bay highland pony, has just won the Highland Pony Enthusiasts Club Veteran Happy Hacker trophy for a third time.

The HPEC, as it is known, has members across the UK and strong links with The Highland Pony Society. A friendly society, open to anyone with an interest in this versatile, hardy and beautiful native breed, it organises regional ridden events, shows and socials and a national annual performance award scheme. The scheme includes Happy Hacker awards for members who do not compete their ponies, with the Veteran trophy going to the pony over the age of 21 completing the highest number of hacking hours with the same rider.

Rebecca O’Rourke finally realised her lifelong ambition to own a pony in her early 40s and Humphrey has been with her since he was 3 years old. Collecting the award this year was very special as last April Rebecca had doubted that Humphrey would see the summer out: “It was as if all his years caught up with him overnight. He seemed to lose interest in life and was in very poor condition”. Changes in ownership at the yard Rebecca had been on for 25 years led her to explore a move. Options were limited as Humphrey has to live out 24/7 and reacts strongly to any change in his environment. With a heavy heart, Rebecca realised that while the stress of moving might prove a stress too far for Humphrey options, if he did not move, were running out. In May last year Humphrey moved to Claire Robinson’s Equiteach; a decision that gave him a new lease of life. Claire Robinson has a well-deserved reputation, as BHS Cleveland’s Welfare Officer, for turning around the prospects for young stock with a poor start in life and Rebecca is extremely grateful that this care and concern was there for her old boy when he needed it.

Now established in a small herd and settled with new best friends, rescue ponies Hobbit and Mole, Humphrey thrives on being part of a weekly Riding for the Disabled Group and has turned his hoof to helping less confident young riders take part in Pony Club Camp days or calming the nerves of novice adult riders. And, of course, he hacks out once or twice a week with Rebecca.

Further information about the Highland Pony Enthusiast Club email: