This adorable miniature Shetland pony has become an Internet sensation after being diagnosed with DWARFISM – standing at just 28 INCHES tall.
Little Alf was so small when he was first rescued from a breeder’s yard that his ears measured just 3cm and his hooves were only slightly bigger than a £2 coin.
He was saved by animal lover Hannah Russell where he faced the chop because of his unusually tiny size.
Hannah, 20, was suffering from severe back pain and had dropped out of college when a seven-month-old Alf came trotting into her life on Christmas Eve in 2012.
Hannah said: “When I was 16 I was approached by a local breeder who was passing on Christmas Eve and saw that I had another Shetland pony in my field. They told me about Alf and asked if I’d take him on.
“Because of his dwarfism they couldn’t breed from him and were going to have to have him destroyed.
“His condition means that he has some deformities as well as his height. His ears are only 3cm tall, and his hooves are slightly bigger than a two-pound coin.
“I said yes before I’d even seen him.”
But Hannah was having her own problems and had dropped out of college as a result of her back pain.
“I was feeling quite down at the time because I was watching all of my friends go away to college and having fun while I was stuck at home because of my back.
“I went for some scans and the doctors told me that I had three fractured vertebrae, two worn discs and a broken rib. It was either old horse riding injuries or a genetic thing.”
“Alf came along at just the right time really. I saved him and he saved me.”
Without asking her parent’s permission, a determined Hannah brought Alf home from the breeder’s yard and hid him in a stable overnight.
Hannah said: “The next morning, on Christmas Day, I told my parents I had a surprise for them.
“My mother said: ‘it better not be another horse’, but when they saw him they obviously fell in love with him straight away.”
Since being rescued, Alf has more than repaid the favour.
Now four-years old, Alf has become an internet sensation and has inspired four children’s books, as well as having his own shop, magazine, YouTube channel and clothing range.
Hannah, who lives with her parents in Leyburn, North Yorks., said: “I started blogging about him and taking pictures of him just after I got him in early 2013.
“People online absolutely loved it. I think they just fell in love with him straight away.
“It took hold really quickly because he’s just the perfect little model.
“I set up his own page and called it Little Alf. It got really popular really quickly and in four or five months he had over 8,000 followers.”
“I’ve always wanted to write but I was always horrendous at spelling. So I just wrote one without telling anyone.”
Hannah self published her first book called ‘The Magical Adventure of Little Alf – the Discovery of the Wild Pony’.
Speaking about Alf’s first book, Hannah said: “We just put it online and it got well known very quickly. So I wrote three more and self published those too.”
Alf’s popularity has skyrocketed since his books were published, as people instantly fall in love with his cheeky nature and adorable size.
But it’s his plucky attitude as well as his size that have turned Little Alf into a social media sensation with over 40,000 followers.
Owner Hannah Russell said: “He absolutely loves the attention. As soon as I get my camera out he knows what to do. He’s quite a cheeky pony and likes to play up for the camera.
“He loves playing football and racing around the field. He must think he’s playing FIFA or something.
“He’s got about 40,000 online followers now.
“He was even given an award by Princess Anne in April this year as special recognition for him raising awareness for different charities.
“She gave him a little black badge that goes on his harness. It’s quite cute really.
“We get quite a lot of visitors to come and see Alf. The shop’s really popular, and his online followers are always coming to see him at different shows and so on.”
Alf’s fifth book is due to be published by Little Brown Publishing and will be on the shelves in October.
The new book is an autobiography called: “Little Alf: The True Story of a Pint-Sized Pony Who Found His Forever Home.”
Hannah said: “Alf has definitely changed my life, there’s no doubt about that.
“We 100% saved each other. He’s my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him.”
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