Peanut is an 8hh mini Shetland pony who lives with Oonagh O’Brien. Oonagh took Peanut on when her previous owner, Jennifer, needed to rehome her in order to move abroad. At the same time, Oonagh was looking for a companion horse for Cody, her 17hh Irish Sports Horse, as she’d had to put her 30 year old mare Cass to sleep due to health concerns.
But lets go back a step or two to find out how Peanut came to be with Jennifer in the first place. Peanut had been running wild with a herd of other Shetlands and had one foal on the ground, when a call out for a home was made on Facebook. Several months after her initial rescue Peanut, who was just six years old, surprised Jennifer with a second foal. Although all three were quite hard to handle although Peanut craved the human contact, however her wild streak would overcome that and she would be intermittently difficult.
When Tara from Cobh Rescue Horses heard about Jennifer’s dilemma – she offered to take all three and find them good homes – which all three now have. When Peanut and her foals arrived at Cobh Rescue Horses – she was checked by a vet, vaccinated and handles by volunteers.
When Oonagh took her own her training was informal, “I suppose her training when I adopted her, came from her mimicking my horse Cody – who is very social and loves people – I initially let her follow his lead, but when she would follow him around the arena over poles, I started getting her to follow me – so it was like a bit of agility – her having fun- whilst bonding with me. After I won her trust, I spent time lunging – just sitting with her in the paddock and grooming her etc.”
Oonagh is rightly proud of the progress that Peanut has made since being rescued. She has transformed from a timid pony who was nervous about being handled by humans, to a social butterfly, who loves nothing more than to follow Oonagh around waiting for hugs and kisses. Oonagh says, “She is a little pocket rocket – full of mischief and joy and she has a personality the size of a house.”
In the ring her biggest achievements have been winning three out of four classes she has entered, including two Reserve Champion classes at her last show. Her success has been quite surprising to Oonagh who originally started taking Peanut to shows so that she wouldn’t feel left behind when Cody went out competing.
Last but not least Peanut acted as a brand ambassador of sorts for Mackey Ireland – one of Ireland’s biggest suppliers and manufacturer’s of equestrian goods. They also outfitted Peanut for her showing debut. Excitingly Peanut may also go on to feature in their brochure in the future.
Peanut has also amassed quite the fan club, resulting in Oonagh starting up a Facebook page dedicated to sharing her story and adventures – “The Antics of Peanut the Rescue Pony”.
Life lessons from Peanut
Oonagh says, “Peanut has taught me to never say never. To see my little rescue pony trot into a show ring with the confidence of a horse ten times her size and hold her own against established show ponies, is unbelievable. Even at home – when I see her little legs galloping to meet me at the gate with her little neigh – that sounds more like a goat if I’m honest – fills me with pride, because I know that we have an unbreakable bond achieved through hard work, time and treats… I mean love.”
What does the future hold for Peanut?
In 2019, Oonagh has set the goal for Peanut of winning a Championship Title. Oonagh told me, that “To pick up the Reserve Champion title last year, was beyond all our wildest dreams, but she did it – and in such a short time – makes me believe she can and will do it.
For us, whilst coming home with a rosette is always lovely – no matter what it’s for, it’s not why we are doing it. We are doing it because we believe that firstly, Peanut is worthy and deserves to win a show after coming so far, both physically and mentally – and secondly, because she is like a little poster girl for rescue horses. Proving that they can go on to make amazing pets that can hold their own in any equestrian bracket. I have never been a person that feels a rescue should get any preference over a bought or highly bred animal – but I do have to admit, the sense of pride when they turn inside out and blossom, is quite incredible – and I want others to realise that they too can achieve this if they decide to rescue.”
Oonagh has also made it her misson to use Peanut’s platform to raise awareness for Cobh Rescue Horses.
Who are Cobh Rescue Horses?
Cobh Rescue Horses is an independent charity run by a wonderful group of volunteers who go above and beyond to help horses in need. As they are not Governement funded, they rely on fundraisers and donations to help them care for horses they take in.
Oonagh has been a long term fan of the work that Cobh Rescue Horses do and knew that they would be her first choice when it cam time for her to rescue her own horse. She was immediately struck that Cohb Resuce Horses’ biggest priority was to ensure that horses found the best home.
Oonagh went on to say, “The yard that they run their rescue out of has such a lovely atmosphere. You can tell from the minute you drive in that all the horses, even those that have endured awful abuse or starvation, are happy and well looked after. They have horses of all shapes and sizes and every volunteer has a genuine interest and love in them. The girls are more than willing to leave their beds at any hour of the night to pick up a horse in need and they just carry on their unselfish acts of caring and rehabilitating the horses in their care. What I absolutely love about them is that they follow up on all the horses that are adopted – and as there are over 82 of them to date – that is some going.
They use their page to share the after stories and photos of these horses and they have the nicest followers, who all remember when that horse may have arrived at the centre – and there is a genuine interest in seeing how the horses get on after leaving them. They are a very well respected charity here in Cork and deservedly so for all the wonderful work they do for these animals.”
If you would like to support the work that Cobh Rescue Horses do, you can make a donation via their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/
You can follow Peanut’s journey on Facebook at The antics of Peanut the Rescue Pony.