When I was growing up there were two types of girls – horsey girls, and the rest of us.
The horsey girls would rush home after school so they could head to the stables and ride the horses, or muck them out, or feed them… (not being a horsey girl, I’m not entirely sure WHAT they did – but it always seemed very important… ).
I do think they’re beautiful animals and I have tried to see the attraction to these elegant equines; years ago I had the chance to go riding through lush Florida bush at a fancy five-star resort hotel. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? Except I spent the entire time clinging to the reigns for dear life, praying I didn’t get thrown off and require a helicopter rescue (have you read about my accident-prone life?).
The girls are definitely more in tune with furry friends as a whole – they both adore animals of all shapes and sizes (I’m currently being worn down for a puppy – watch this space…) – but it’s fair to say horses and I don’t have closest of relationships.
Stuffed toy horses, however, are much more in my comfort zone. So when the team at Petplan Equine got in touch to see if the girls wanted to design their very own bespoke horse toy, I knew this was much more in my field of expertise (field… horses… get it?!).
The more I read about Petplan Equine Horse Insurance, specialist insurance for horses to help get them back to health after illness and injury, the more I liked about the entire Petplan company. What really caught my attention was the company’s commitment to animal rehoming charities; since setting up the Petplan Charitable Trust in 1994, £11 million has been raised and donated to vital animal charities and support organisations.
There’s actually a horse sanctuary set in the countryside close to where we live where retired service horses, as well as horses and ponies rescued from neglect, are taken to enjoy a safe and comfortable retirement. We visited a few summers ago, and the girls fell in love with every one of the horses we saw. ‘If we had a farm I’d fill it with horses and ride them every day,’ Big Sis told me.
The trip was particularly memorable as one had the same hair colour as Lil Sis…
… while another actually tried to eat her hair (which the girls found endlessly hilarious).
When it came to creating their very own pony toy, Big Sis took control of the design and drew this galloping beauty; meet Shadow. After this masterpiece was completed, we scanned the picture and sent it off to be turned into a plush 3D version. A few weeks later a carefully wrapped package arrived… Shadow had been brought to life!
I reckon he’s pretty spot on – right down to his chocolate-brown coat, flowing black mane and his sturdy little legs. Finally, a horse I can get along with.
• this post has been written in collaboration with Petplan Equine, but all thoughts are my own