FROM the outside it looks like any of the other houses on the street. A two-storey semi-detached home, except this is one with a difference.
Turning into the living room of Stephanie Noble’s home in the village of Coll the first thing you are greeted with is a home made stable conversion, packed with hay, and both nailed to the floor and bracketed to the ceiling.
Ms Noble, originally from Londonderry, Ireland, is sharing her home with her most unusual house mate ever after being forced to take in her beloved, and fully-grown, Connemara pony on Christmas Eve.
“It’s not ideal,” admits Stephanie, 65, “but I don’t treat her like a pet. Taking her in has been for her own safety and security and my own sanity as I was borderline going bonkers.”
She says the pony, named Grey Lady Too, was unceremoniously dumped on her doorstep on Christmas Eve leaving her with simply no other option but to take her indoors.
The sight of a fully grown pony cantering up the front steps of this domestic house is both unusual and amusing but the situation is desperate and traumatic for Stephanie who claims to have lost both sleep and weight since the whole sorry episode began.
She explained: “My first pony when I was a kid was a Connemara Grey called Grey Lady. Since then I’ve been in the horse business and had lots of horses but I always wanted a Connemara pony again.
“Now I’m 65 and don’t want to get back into serious riding competition so I thought a nice Connemara pony would be great. I saw an ad in Horse And Hound and loved her to bits, and paid for her in August. She was then shipped over but coming from a warmer place she hadn’t winter-coated up at all by the time she arrived.
“I had obviously arranged boarding facilities for her up here but they let me down at the last minute.
“I managed to find a place for her overnight then toured the neighbourhood and found somewhere I could turn her out on in Gress but at this point I wasn’t sleeping or eating as I was becoming so worried.
“In October she was moved to Tolsta but things didn’t work out there and the pony was unexpectedly and unceremoniously dumped on my lawn at 7:40pm on Christmas Eve and without a blanket on.”
“I left her out on Christmas Eve and double-blanketed her myself but I didn’t sleep a wink for worry that she would get out and cause an accident or harm herself.
“The next day was Christmas Day, not that it felt that way for me, but I cleared all the furniture away and made her a temporary slot. Again I didn’t sleep a wink for two or three nights as I could hear pushing furniture around and getting into her grain.
“So I decided to build her somewhere to keep her safe. I took me over a week as I had to brace the ceiling and line up with the doors. I have fastened a gate with a safety clip on it to stop her breaking out and it even has a door stop to wedge it open to make sure it doesn’t slam shut on her.
“Under the hay in the living room there are four thick stall mats made of specially formed rubber which is some protection for the floor. I have also put down cat litter to absorb any spilt water and urine. I disinfect daily but it is still developing a hint of an odour.”
Now Grey Lady Too can enjoy a meal from the comfort of her owner’s furniture free front room while gazing out the window with sea views over Broadbay but naturally Stephanie is hoping to move her to a more suitable accommodation as soon as possible.
For the full story about Stephanie and Lady Grey Too’s unusual living arrangements, and what hope there is at improving the situation, check out this week’s Stornoway Gazette, published Thursday, January 12.