Rescue horse Tinto has been crowned World Horse Welfare Rehomed Horse of the Year 2018 as well as winning the ‘Best Friend’ category thanks to his amazing bond with rehomer, Fiona Bell.
Tinto, or Il Tintoretto as he is formally known, came into World Horse Welfare’s care in 2005 with a group of horses who were not receiving the care they needed from their owner. Tinto underwent rehabilitation at the charity’s Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Aberdeenshire before he was ready to be rehomed. Fiona explains how she came to meet him:
“I was considering buying a horse, but my friend had rehomed from World Horse Welfare so persuaded me to consider doing the same. We went to Belwade Farm to look at two other horses and whilst I was there I looked up to see Tinto standing at the top of a hill, almost as if he was saying ‘Look at me!’.”
Fiona’s experience, patience and affection for Tinto, who had been backed for just six weeks when she rehomed him, enabled them to build a unique bond and for Tinto to develop into a lovely all-rounder. Together they have embarked on showjumping, cross-country and dressage, with regular trips to Scotland’s beautiful beaches where they love unwinding together. “We’ve had an amazing amount of fun together. Tinto has given me more than any horse I’ve ever owned,” Fiona says.
In 2014, Fiona was diagnosed with a very serious illness, but after taking advice from her consultant, she was told she could carry on riding as long as she didn’t jump as any kind of injury would have serious implications.
“We continued to have lessons and he instinctively seemed to know he had to take special care of me during that time. It seemed fitting that the first event we took part in after my recovery was the Royal Highland Show doing a demonstration for World Horse Welfare.”
At around the same time, Fiona decided 23-year-old Tinto was ready for retirement she received a letter inviting her to nominate him for World Horse Welfare’s Rehomed Horse of the Year. She said: “I thought entering him into the ‘Best Friend’ category was the perfect way of highlighting what Tinto means to me and how much I valued the support he had given me during my illness. I was delighted and amazed that DJ Sara Cox chose him and then to find out he was the overall winner was incredible. We were so thrilled!”
Cox, the judge of the Best Friend category, said Tinto’s experience summed up how special and rewarding it can be to re-home a World Horse Welfare horse.
“Tinto has found a loving home and in return has given so much back to his rehomer over the years, from competing at shows to being there for her as she battled illness. I love how it’s now time, after giving so much love, for Tinto to relax and enjoy his retirement. A beautiful bond and an everlasting friendship that deserves to be celebrated!”
Tinto has a home for life with Fiona, but now that he has retired she is planning to get a younger horse, but is positive that her old gentleman will be the perfect companion to teach his youthful stablemate good manners.
World Horse Welfare’s 2019 Rehomed Horse of The Year competition will be held in October with three new categories.