SOCIAL distancing may have put paid to his planned party, but a famous little horse still managed to celebrate in style.

Little Alf the miniature Shetland is well-known thanks to his owner Hannah Russell chronicling his adventures in a series of books.

Ms Russell, of Leyburn, also has a biannual magazine, a clothing range and her own shop inspired by Little Alf who has just turned nine.

After his planned birthday party with friends was curtailed, Ms Russell downsized the celebration to fit in with the government’s regulations.

Ms Russell and her mum Sharron made the best of it; they made him a horsey cake and helped him open the many presents sent by his fans.

Ms Russell said: “We always have a party for Alf, but this year we couldn’t, but he did get lots of presents through the post from his fans, which is nice.

“We still go for a walk and although people can’t come over and speak, they wave and send messages that it’s nice to see him.”

Ms Russell and Alf have also been spreading some joy of their own in their village, distributing free-range eggs and chocolate treats whilst keeping at a safe distance.

The lockdown has also given Ms Russell time to work on her next book which involves Alf having adventures in the Yorkshire Dales.

Ms Russell said: “I thought it would be nice to highlight the many attractions of the Dales in our next book as once the restrictions are lifted we need to keep showing people how beautiful it all is here.”