A fitness instructor has launched a new party business featuring a mystical and famous unicorn.
Claire Economou, from Gravesend, came up with the idea for Wish Upon a Pony parties in lockdown after deciding to venture into something more ‘unique’.
Claire tells how the company was born
Horse-loving Claire already had her own animals, and when a friend asked her for help finding a pony to dress up as a unicorn for a TV show, the idea took off.
The 37-year-old said: “It kind of evolved. A friend asked for a unicorn but they wanted [my other horse] Joey, but I said it wouldn’t work because he’s chestnut.
“Then little Henny came along and I thought he was the perfect unicorn – as he was supposed to be – and the rest is history.
“He was such a hit that I realized he would make the perfect unicorn to add to my pony party business.”
The horse then appeared in the Channel 4 documentary The Pet Talent Agency: Barking Mad, which followed the Dover-based company as it secured pet commercials and TV deals.
Henny is a five-year-old American miniature horse and Claire originally bought him after looking for a pony for her daughter, Sophia.
She added: “I went to see him and fell in love. More so once I realized Sophia and Henny were born on the same day and year.
“I transformed him into Henny the unicorn, gave him a rainbow mane and tail and added some beautiful sparkly hooves.”
To create the unicorn look, the fitness instructor uses non-toxic, horse-friendly chalk from My Happy Equine to paint her rainbow-colored mane and tail and make sure everything is safe.
It lasts a few days before fading and can be reapplied or washed off. Henny is even a brand ambassador for the company.
Claire said: “His mane and tail colors have caused a lot of controversy in the past. It washes and washes.
“I had my vet come in the other day and he said it was the best thing he had seen in ages.”
She also uses equine hoof polish on her hooves, then dabs it on with glitter when it’s tacky to create the magical look – always using safe products.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds to start a business using animals, Claire explained, because you have to have a license and pass a lot of checks.
She added: “It took me a year to get my license and it was really hard to get. A lot of people don’t realize that when they hire horses and they get it cheap There’s a reason you pay a little more for quality.
“It’s extremely thorough and rightly so. I work with children and animals.”
Claire is fully licensed by Gravesham Borough Council to keep and train animals for the show, her horses are also all checked, their stables checked and she is insured.
She also performs a risk assessment before taking Henny to parties to ensure her and the children’s safety.
Claire has run her other business, Crayford-based Claire’s Pole Fitness, for 15 years, but wanted to change things up.
She said: “I’ve had my other businesses for so long, I was just looking for something different.
“I don’t think I’m going to do pole fitness forever.
“I’m often told it’s an amazing idea. It started during lockdown so it didn’t have a real chance to flourish. It’s our year though.”
A unicorn meet party costs £190 for an hour and lets kids hold Henny’s head and make wishes, give him lots of fuss and attention and take pictures. They also visited retirement homes, hospices and schools.
She also runs two-hour sessions with her 29-year-old Welsh B-section horse, Joey.
Wish Upon A Pony closed for the winter months from November to allow horses a break and reopened in April.