THE day after helping his home celebrate its 25th anniversary, an animal shelter’s longest-serving resident has had to be put down.
Toady the horse had been with Stubbington Ark on and off for 22 years, but he had been suffering poor health ever since he was rescued.
The grey Arabian had been found knee-deep in waste, trapped inside a small hut, and when first brought to the Ranvilles Lane shelter he was showing all the signs of being maltreated, and was even scared to go outdoors.
But thanks to the staff’s patience and care, he was soon on the mend.
Lucy Fry, now team leader of the Ark’s wildlife section, had known Toady since his arrival.
She said: ‘Everybody was in tears. He had a special personality and he was so lovable.
‘He was quite an age, we think he was about 38, but it did all happen so quickly at the end.
‘It was the vet’s decision in the end, but you have to believe that it was the best decision for him.
‘We’re all in mourning here.
‘It’s not the same without him – he’s left such a big hole here.’
For several years Toady was rehomed to the HMS Dryad recreation centre, where he helped numerous children learn to ride, but was brought back to the Ark to enjoy his retirement.
However, students from South Downs College were still brought to see him.
Lucy added: ‘He came back to us with arthritis, but he was so good natured that students could still come and learn from him about keeping a horse. He lived his life out here in the paddock with the sheep and the goats.’
The Ark needs to raise £1m a year to keep its doors open. For more details go to stubbingtonark.org.uk or call 01329 667541.