Twiglet was undoubtedly To The Manor Born but now the little Shetland pony, who is believed to be the oldest in the country and was wasting away, has rallied after being given the run of the estate.
The 46-year-old was literally on his last legs as age took its toll and was losing weight so fast owner Alice Kennard feared he would not live to see another autumn.
So, she decided to allow him to feast on the lush grass and choice border flowers in the grounds of Forde Abbey, near Chard, in Somerset, if only to make his final days more bearable.
Instead, Twiglet has thrived and as well as making a full recovery he has become a firm favourite with visitors to the tourist attraction.
One or two members of the public had enquired of staff whether their eyes might be deceiving them as they spotted a pony wandering across the manicured lawns. But no, they were told, it was Twiglet who was poorly and needed some rest, recreation and quiet contemplation on his fate – just like the monks who were his predecessors at the 12th century monastery.
Mrs Kennard, whose family have owned it for the last 70 years, said: “We pride ourselves on our gardens and normally they would be sacrosanct.
“We felt a few hoof prints on the grass or a few nibbled plants would be worth it.”
Twiglet was born in 1966, the year England won the World Cup. His age is well beyond the life expectancy of a Shetland but he is back on top – unlike the national team.