Rags to riches story for abandoned Life of Reilly horse, transformed by racecourse manager
Six years ago Sue Phelan, manager of Waterford and Tramore Racecourse, received a call that there was an abandoned pony in bad shape on one of the fields belonging to the racing venue.
She was sceptical but decided to investigate, and sure enough she came across a pony which she subsequently named The Life of Reilly, or Reilly for short.
"He was riddled with worms and covered in sores. He had been there for some time and was in a really sorry state," says Sue.
"I contacted the owners and eventually bought the pony for €26. I called him The Life of Reilly because that's what I had promised I would give him."
Sue brought Reilly to her home in Dungarvan where she keeps other horses and had him microchipped, gelded, vaccinated and got him a passport. While his manner has improved in recent years, it has taken time to tame him.
"He was very hard work at the start and very wild, and wary of men and hated when people wore high-vis jackets. He soon became better and followed the example of the other horses," she explains.
Sue adds that the making of Reilly was his stint at Shanakill Riding Centre in Kilmacthomas where the interaction with children did him "the world of good", but he can still have off days.
"I brought him down to the Clonmel Show last year because I wanted to enter him into the Rescue Pony class competition there, but he was acting up in the car park and I knew he would upset the other ponies so I took him home," laughs Sue.