Thousands of youngsters had ridden Bailey
Published: 22 May, 2014
By DAN CARRIER
HE lent his back to thousands of inner-London schoolchildren who would not normally get the chance to ride a horse, in the process becoming the hay-chewing star of Kentish Town City Farm.
But this week farm workers and regulars were in mourning as Bailey, an Irish cob pony, collapsed and suddenly died. The popular 19-year-old had been in good health in recent weeks and his death has come as a big shock.
Bailey was one of four horses at the farm in Cressfield Close, and part of a pony club used by people who are partially disabled, the very young and the elderly.
Manager John Langan said: “He had been ridden by so, so many people in Kentish Town. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Bailey collapsed on Tuesday morning and, despite the efforts of vets, could not be saved.
Mr Langan said: “We found him in his stable. He was lying in a corner and we tried to get him back on his feet.
“We called the vets in and they sedated him to keep him calm while he was examined. We also had the Fire Brigade’s animal rescue unit in from Harrow and from Wembley. They tried to get him back on his feet – but we think he may have injured himself when he fell over.
“He got get up on to his front legs but not his hind legs. He had no strength at all and we had to make a very difficult decision. The animal’s welfare is what is important.”
Bailey, who was a piebald mix known for his particularly whiskery snout, was born in 1996 on a farm in County Wicklow, Ireland, and moved to London three years later. The good-natured pony loved to be taken out into the streets around Kentish Town.
Mr Langan said: “When we brought him over, he was already suitable for riding. He’d been well trained and loved to be out and about. His favourite treat was, basically, food – he ate everything, though he could be a bit fussy about his hay. And he had days when he was a bit of a misery-guts – a bit like me.”
Farm volunteer Claire Probert, who has ridden Bailey for many years, said he would be greatly missed.
She said: “He had a wonderful character. He did like to occasionally have a nibble, but otherwise he was as good as gold. He was ridden by everyone – from two-year-olds to adults, and was so calm and gentle with inexperienced riders. He was also a very talented horse – he could canter and jump with no problem. He was a good all-rounder, an athletic horse, and perfect for a pony school. He was one of the safest ponies we’ve had for riding on the road.”
The farm will now have to find £3,000 to pay for a new horse for their packed programme of horse-riding sessions, and are hoping people will make a donation to the farm in memory of a pony that gave so many people so much pleasure.