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Hannah, Little Alf & Friends At Swinton green

Grab a cuppa tea and let me tell you a little bit about us...

It all started with a pint sized pony, Little Alf who stands at just 28 inches high due to him having dwarfism.

Little Alf came to live with me when I needed a new focus and over the last 10 years we've become constant companions and my team here has expanded to a small holding based at Swinton, North Yorkshire

Including my team of pets who feature in my books!

Hannah Russell, Little Alf & Pepper.jpg
Hannah Russell & Goats.jpg


Little Alf first came to live with me in 2012 when I was 16 years old, he changed my life in the best way possible, who knew a 28-inch pony would make such a difference to me.


Over the last ten years or so, me and Little Alf have faced highs and lows, we’ve had books published, merchandise launched, raised awareness and money for charity campaigns, had books published overseas, been on TV, radio and so much more… Little Alf has become quite the star.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, I was born in Yorkshire and brought up in the Yorkshire Dales, I’ve always been obsessed with horses and animals in general, I had dreams of one day been a riding instructor or working with horses, but in my teens, I started to suffer from severe back pain, an MRI scan showed that I had fractured Vertebrates and worn discs in my back and doctors made it clear and advised I shouldn’t ride again.

It was at that time in my life I was in a low ebb and looking for a new focus when one day I found out a little pony who was only 28 inches high due to him having dwarfism needed a home… ‘miniature Shetland’s normal stand around 34 inches high, but Little Alf measures at a pint sized 28 inches.’

The dwarfism means that Little Alf’s features are extra small too, he has tiny ears, tiny hooves and because of his condition been rejected by his herd and needed a little extra love and care.

As Little Alf came to live with me, I started to take photos of his adventure and posted them online, this led me to start a blog about him, which turned me to write some children’s stories about his adventures…

My first book was published about him when I was 17 years old and was the start of a series of books featuring Little Alf and as the years passed has expanded into further magical stories and an autobiographical account of our bond together. I’ve also moved in to writing a few other magical stories and teen fiction.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience how equines and animals can be used for therapy, without Little Alf coming to live with me I would have never understood how equines can be used to heal and how rewarding it is to listen to your pony and understand them. I have a rather small menagerie here in the Yorkshire Dales of rescue pets, which is where the term and brand ‘Hannah, Little Alf and friends’ came from as they all actively feature online with me. 

Hannah Russell Valais .jpg


As well as writing the books, I have gone on to start a few different business adventures, working with home interiors in the past, fashion and social media coordination. 

Little Alf really helped bring out my entrepreneur spirit and discover my love for business.


Over the last 5 years I have also travelled up and down the UK public speaking to groups and sharing my story.

In 2020 life came to a stand still after I was diagnosed with Sarcoma Cancer and had an intense operation on my hip to remover the tumour, followed by radiotherapy and cancer treatment.


shortly after, I then discovered I had skin cancer and had further treatment.

In 2022 I got remission in June and since then having been living life to the full with my small holding in the Yorkshire Dales.

During my time of having cancer treatment I got Izzy & Ida my Valais black nose sheep who provided endless therapy and enjoyment especially on the hard days. These two have become very well known on my social channels and get millions of views each year online.


My sheep flock has also now expanded...


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In 2022 we moved house to Swinton Green, a small holding based on Swinton Estate just outside of Masham, North Yorkshire.

​It had always been an idea to open up a centre one day which offers animal experiences, I love working with my animals and offer experiences on a 1 2 1 basis to make the experiences more personal and hands on. Animals are great to establish connections with, they have provided me with a great focus over the years and I want to share this with others.

I’m fortunate enough to also work with many clients and charities with additional needs, offering animal assisted therapy sessions.

The centre is a great chance to meet the animals from the books, learn about the characters and get some hands on experiences.

At Swinton Green we have plans for 2024 to run workshops, courses and expand our growing ideas.

Swinton Green is very much a family run project, my parents both have a love for the outdoors, mum is the artist behind the Quirky Cows and characters you see online, in the shop onsite and also has her studio here.

Dad is equally as creative and crafts epoxy tables for the home and looks after the grounds.

What's meant to be will always find its way..

Find out more about Swinton Green 

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