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‘They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning.’

Sanctuary at Home carer and GB Para Dressage rider, Anna-Mae Cole, recently rehomed Wilma.

Wilma was finally ready to go to a home after five years of rehabilitation. She was just four months old when she was rescued in 2016. She had already been separated from her mother and was one of 16 other ponies who were all facing euthanasia. This traumatic start to life led to defensive behaviour and she often wouldn’t come to her grooms for food. She was very unpredictable and we knew she would need a lot of time and patience.

The rehabilitation process for a pony like Wilma is often long. We hoped that one day she could go out on loan to a knowledgeable carer. That day came in March this year when Anna-Mae arrived at our Yelverton sanctuary.

“When I met Wilma for the first time, she was in a stable with her field friend. I took her out for a walk down the lane and passed some cars. The whole process was incredibly easy. I wanted to offer a home to a pony that hadn’t got one yet.

“On the day I picked her up with my friend she ran straight into the trailer and wasn’t nervous or anxious at all. When she arrived at my yard, she announced her arrival and was like a stallion with her tail up.

“The next day, I moved Wilma into a stable with my other horse, Hugo, who I ride in dressage competitions, as they were looking at each other over a fence. They are now inseparable.”

Anna-Mae has CMT, a degenerative muscle wasting disease, and Cherubism.

“I started riding when I was 11 and my passion just took off from there. I completed a Level 3 Extended Diploma at Bicton College and have competed for GB in Para Dressage. I was full time in a wheelchair before I started riding horses and I owe everything to them. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning.

“I started Para Dressage at college as I kept falling off my horse. I’ve never looked back since. My greatest achievement was being selected for a 3* International.

“In the future, I hope to compete abroad and at the European and World Equestrian Games.

“I would definitely recommend rehoming from the Mare and Foal Sanctuary. If you have the time, do it!”

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