She may be 39 but Autumn is anything but a load of old pony.
The small horse has been keeping children happy at Yaxley Riding Centre for 35 years now, a period of time which the stable’s co-owner Clare Thorne believes may be a record.
Autumn was four when Clare’s mum Pauline first opened the stables in Main Street, and even as she approaches her 40th birthday Autumn is still spending up to 90 minutes a week being ridden by children who always say how “fluffy” she is.
Clare, who lives near the stables, said: “She is not the oldest pony in the UK, but I’m sure she must be the longest serving pony in a riding school.
“It would be lovely if she is. Thirty-five years is a long time.
“She’s quite cheeky still and the children really like riding her. They say she’s fluffy and are quite intrigued as she has one blue eye and one green eye.
“I get attached to all of them, but I’m absolutely dreading the day anything happens to Autumn. She has been with me a very long time.
“Every day I’m up doing the horses, getting them ready. Every time in the morning I shout ‘morning’ to them, Autumn is the only one that shouts back to me. We have quite a good bond.”
Clare was 10 when she first got Autumn, but circumstances mean she has never had the chance to ride her beloved pony.
She said: “When I was 10 I could not ride her because she was too young. By the time I was 12 I could not ride her because she was too big.
“She’s always been a real character. When she was younger for definite she was naughty. Even now she can be quite naughty to the children.
“If they do not brush her she won’t let them ride her.”
The oldest ever pony, according to a 2007 report by the Horse and Hound, was Sugar Puff, a 56-year-old Shetland-Exmoor gelding who had to be put down at his home in West Sussex.
While Autumn is not yet approaching that age, Clare is insistent that when her health deteriorates she will no longer be used as a riding pony.
She added: “She is very, very healthy. When her health means she can’t do it any more, that’s when she will stop.”
Three-year-old Elyse Mathurin is one of the lucky girls who gets to ride Autumn now, and she said: “I like trotting on her. She’s soft and makes me laugh.”
Instructor Jo Parsons knows all about Autumn, having first ridden her herself back in 1986.
She said: “She was always fun because everyday was different. Sometimes she would be very cheeky then very good - she was always an exciting ride.
“She’s still the same. With the little riders she’s really good, but when you can ride her she is really cheeky. She just wants to do her own thing.
“Everybody loves Autumn.”