Every now and again our grooms form a lasting partnership with one of the ponies in our care.
Which is exactly what happened to Lilly Richards when she first began working with Moonspark India.
The young grey arrived at the Sanctuary as a two-year-old after being found emaciated and starving on Bodmin Moor.
She moved to a loving home as a companion but, soon after losing her stable mate, she was returned to our Yelverton stables.
It was there that Lilly first met her – and it was love at first sight.
She said: “She came bounding out of the trailer, mane flying everywhere and then stood in the gateway looking puzzled.
“I knew she had recently lost her stable mate and I could feel she desperately needed to form a bond with someone or something.”
India was wary and could be difficult to catch in the beginning, but slowly Lilly began to gain her trust and one day she came to her call – and has done every day since.
She said: “I called to her like I always do with the ponies, not expecting her to come. It’s just habit most of the time. But that day, she looked straight at me and immediately came across the field.
“She walked calmly over to me, had a good sniff and started to nuzzle me. It was so special.”
All the horses and ponies who come into the Sanctuary are allotted a groom to carry out most of their training, allowing them to gain the trust of an animal that may have been traumatised or neglected.
And to Lilly’s delight she was asked to complete India’s training.
She said: “Every day she was getting more and more comfortable with me…and she was really starting to enjoy her training.
“We were having so much fun, long reigning, lunging, going for great walks together on the moors. Before long I began gently starting her ridden work and it went so well.
“It felt like she trusted me and we were becoming a real team. Whenever she was uncertain of anything I would gently reassure her and we’d get past it.
“I don’t remember when I realised I couldn’t let her go. I just knew seeing her leave the yard with someone else would have broken my heart.”
Lilly approached the Sanctuary and it was obvious the pair were made for each other.
After the usual Sanctuary checks and forms it was decided to allow Lilly to loan India – and take her back to her forever home.
Lilly added: “Thanks to the support of the Sanctuary not only has my dream come true, but I have a beautiful pony who really trusts me.
“I can’t wait to begin my new life with India. She’s going to be very, very well looked after.”