Jewellery’s nice. A fine meal with wine – yes, also good. I’ll let you in on a secret: I wouldn’t say no to a weekend in Venice. But can any of them compete with a pony? I think not. Fear not, lovers of the horse-mad, I have your Valentine’s gift solution. Here’s a list of local and global charities in the UK that offer adoption gift sets.
The Moorland Mousie Trust on Exmoor have a selection of bonny Exmoor ponies for you to adopt. Updates and photos can be posted or emailed to you, and you have a chance to visit the centre and maybe even ride your pony. Score!
Redwings Horse Sanctuary have incredible facilities for caring for neglected equines, from a full-on veterinary hospital to a special unit for handling the most traumatised animals. They also have a range of options for adopters, and a wide variety of beasties to choose from. What about Muffin the mule?
The Horse Rescue Fund is a Norfolk charity that’s been instrumental in pushing for changes in legislation to protect all horses, from riding school regulations to meat export. They offer a chance to sponsor some of their long-term residents, including Oscar, who was dumped at a mere nine days of age and is now doing very well indeed.
World Horse Welfare have also pulled their weight in campaigning to improve the lives of equines. They oversee a network of rescues around the UK. What about adopting Spencer, who’s based in Aberdeen, and who was rescued in terrible condition from a semi-wild herd?
Horse World in Bristol don’t just provide photos and updates, they also send you a wee stuffed-toy version of your horse or donkey. Horse World have the best names: how could you resist a donkey called Bathmat or Pickle-Lily? Also: you are invited to their birthday party. Oh yes.
Speaking of donkeys, let’s skip on to Adoptadonkey.org.uk which promises instant local donkey to those who cannot resist long, soft ears and a fixation with gingernuts. The Donkey Sanctuary oversees the site, and they have an excellent record not just for rescuing donks in the UK, but also contributing to improvements in the welfare of working donkeys overseas. They’re branching out into therapeutic use of donkeys too, which makes me think we need a new term. If “hippotherapy” is therapy involving horses, then the donkey equivalent is “onotherapy”. Credit where it’s due.
The Brooke is another truly excellent charity, this time devoted exclusively to work in the developing world, where equines make an enormous contribution to the economy. You might never meet your Brooke donkey, but your adoption will help both him and the family he supports.