At the age of 28 Tessa finally got her own horse after years of riding for other people. Bell Hop (Sam) a hurdler was in training with Gerald Ham of Highbridge, a tendon ended his racing career at the age of 11. Sam was not an easy individual but enjoyed his life of hacking and pleasure rides with Tessa until he died at 19 and is buried here at the charity. Panathanicos a 7 year old was the next to come from Gerald, again with tendon issues but Tessa enjoyed competing him at low level.
Horses seemed to find their way into Tessa's hands and were subsequently re homed on a loan basis. Then a little mare aged just 3 years old was rescued by Tessa, and although she survived only 6 months the decision to help ex-racers wether in need or to prevent them falling into the wrong hands, escalated. (Histories - Little Gem)
A enquiry to take an ex-racer came from the well known ex-jockey turned trainer Stan Mellor MBE. Stan was the FIRST ever jockey to reach 1000 wins. Awafa was 5 yrs old and again a tendon halted his racing career, but through this horse came a subsequent 9 horses over a period of years from his yard. This association also resulted in an introduction to Jo Mercer also a formidable Jockey in his time and then racing manager to Gainsborough.
Stan and his wife Elaine became patrons when the Charity became fully registered in 1995 ,and have remained supportive throughout the years.
Tessa and Clive own the yard and land and rent it to the charity for £1 per year.
The daily care is carried out by Tessa and a bevy of wonderful volunteers who give their time and energy to help these under estimated equines.
The Charity survives solely from the generosity of members of the public and fund-raising activities organised by the team through out the year. Also when a horse is found that ideal home, a donation is requested and a monthy DD for the duration of the permanent loan.
When the Charity is asked to take in a horse, a donation is requested. This helps with the financial crises that is always prevalent with being self funded.
Each horse is individually evaluated by Tessa and the team. Ridden alone and in company and their perimeters are tested for virtually every eventually, in as many situations as may be encountered in their new home.
The first priority is for the horse to be suitable for pleasure hacking, anything after that is a bonus, we give them the idea and then its up to the new loanee to take it further. It goes with out saying that the horses that come into the charity come with some sort of problem. It may be physical or behavioral so obvious limitations come with many of the horses within our care. This does not mean that they can not be a part of some ones life and give them joy as well as having a happy future.
To alter a phrase slightly from the film
"We may be small but we be fierce"