Black and white horse is stroked by woman and man outside their home

Neigh-bourhood star

Horse delivers for villagers after lockdown halts book club meetings

A once-shy rescue horse now trots around his village enjoying local celebrity status, after stepping in to keep isolated pensioners reading during the pandemic.

Micky, five, saved the day for the community book club in Hullavington, Wiltshire, when lockdown meant collections and meetings couldn’t happen at the village hall.

The piebald cob laps up his new-found fame on rides about the neighbourhood, but he wasn’t always so happy and confident.

Abi on horseback passing over a book to member of the village
Micky drops off books to the delight of locals

He was found abandoned on a farm in 2019 and arrived at Blue Cross in a poor way, needing vet treatment and training to build his confidence around humans and handling.

Following a year of rehabilitation at our Burford rehoming centre, Abi Elliott-Williams offered him a fresh start.

The usually timid cob took a shine to her husband James when the couple had visited our rehoming centre to meet another horse, who didn’t turn out to be quite the right match.

Micky, the black and white horse, with new owners Abi and James standing either side of him

Soon after, Micky, joined Abi’s other pony Bronte and rescue goat Eric in the paddock.

At first, he was still worried by many things, especially farrier visits, and would often hide his face in back corner of his stable when he encountered anything new.

Abi says: “He was young enough to have learnt better ways but old enough to remember what trauma had happened to him in the past.”

White pony in a rug, black and white horse and a goat in a field
Micky, Bronte and Eric

But with Abi’s care and the courage he got from having best friend Bronte by his side, Micky started to come out of his shell.

And, at the height of the pandemic, he was spreading joy to his community in an important new role.

In February, the local book club was reading a novel by bestselling author JoJo Moyes, called The Giver of Stars based on a real-life story of women known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, who delivered books on horseback in 1930s to rural communities in America.

Black and white horse trots down village road with owner

With lockdown stopping further books from being collected, Abi’s mum, Elizabeth Parry-Williams hatched the idea of recruiting Micky as their very own packhorse librarian to lift waning spirits.

“It cheered them up,” says Abi. “It was one of the things that people really looked forward to. It was something to make them smile.”

Abi and her friend made special saddlebags for Micky’s deliveries, and his heroics at such a concerning time catapulted him into the media spotlight.

Abi with her arms around black and white horse Micky, looking at him smiling
Abi couldn't love Micky any more

Mike, one of the grateful recipients, says: “It was amazing that the delivery and the whole thing could carry on. Because, typically, we all met in the hall but that was obviously out.

“And then there was a knock at the door one day, and there was Micky travelling with saddlebags, and that is what happened in the book we had read. Everybody was looking for good news, everything was gloomy, and everybody loves animals. He’s so good.”

While the village hopes that Micky’s librarian services won’t ever be needed again, the smiles he brought at such a difficult time will never be forgotten.

— Page last updated 04/02/2022