Sue’s love of horses started young:
Learning to ride as a 6 year old only fed the fire. Inspired by the book her father would read her ‘Black Beauty’ (Anna Sewell) she would play for hours with her imaginary herd. Talking through their individual needs, treatment and names with her Dad. He would tell her time and time again to listen to what the horse was telling her, what was it saying? Her Dad would say, ‘watch, walk away and then come back and watch again’. So much of a horse’s language is in their body movements; a flick of an ear, a swish of a tail or a tense flank can say so much. Growing up Sue spent many summers on her cousin’s farm, learning animal care and riding the cows in from the fields. As a teenager with her own pony, Sue would cycle for miles to feed them before and after school, riding at weekends with her friend Jan – sometimes sneaking across the local golf course where they could gallop freely!
earning BHSJA points on various horses while working on Bobby Stone’s yard. Sue would undertake all aspects of horse care and being a groom. She developed her knowledge further and qualified as a BHSAI.
Never forgetting her father’s words “What is the horse trying to tell you?” Sue worked with so called problem ponies that others couldn’t, patiently and peacefully.
a market inspector ensuring horses and ponies are treated well and not in danger, reporting any that were not. This is where the name Penny Ha’Penny came from, it was initially a slight on the ponies at the market; if they weren’t worth a ha’penny, then Sue Penny would want to check on them…the penny ha’penny horses.
Fast forward a few years after living in Wales where she rescued six ponies including ‘Smelly’ an orphaned Shetland foal who was bottled fed in the kitchen (the house had a garden and a paddock out the back), Sue moved to Malvern, buying Misty to be a family pet, then Pippin to keep her company.
The first rescue after moving to Malvern was Mini and Penny a mother and daughter Shetland cross, they had been tied at the side of the road and their tethers had rubbed the skin on their necks raw. Then came Satan another Shetland, he was tied to a tree in Leigh Sinton and Sue spotted him in the pouring rain, feeling sorry for him, Sue and her friends raised money between them to buy him from the Travellers to give him a better life. Upon closer inspection, the poor pony’s head collar had rubbed his face so badly his skin had grown back over it and one of his back legs was shorter than the other – we were told he had been hit by a car, broken his leg and been left to heal himself. He walked with a permanent limp but was not in pain, in fact he would charge people like a bull….hence his name. Then came Joker an ex-show jumper from a local riding school made six.
News spread about Sue’s care of horses in need and she was approached time and time again to help when no-one else could. At times the help would be temporary, providing rest-bite for people going through hard times or poor health, sometimes long enough to help the horse through a difficult time.
Slowly the numbers grew and so did the requests for help. In order to continue helping the horses and locals (including loaning ponies to life-limited children where the family would not have the commitment of a pony when things changed) the rescue centre gained charitable status in 2008.
The rest, as they say, is history….
Over the years Sue and Penny Ha’Penny Horse & Pony Rescue have helped and given homes to more than 200 horses.
Some of the horses will live their days out at the rescue, happy and healthy, others go on to loving loan homes to be cared for as part of a smaller herd or with just one other.
Disclaimer: there are so many stories, a whole book would be needed to tell them all but read on through the website to find out about a few of them…