The Fell Pony Museum: 20th C
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Riding and Driving for the Disabled Association

Patron: HRH the Princess Royal

Riding or driving a pony can help those with any kind of disabilities to exercise more freely than they can in a wheelchair. It boosts their confidence in all areas of their life.

This organisation gives such people the chance to "be taller for once" than the people around them. They can sit up high on the back of a pony, or travel faster than wheelchair speed in a carriage.

A disabled rider practises balance riding a Fell A Disabled rider negotiates an obstacle on a Fell pony

In the saddle they become more independent and can cross obstacles that usually they have to avoid.

Here's a typical comment from a paraplegic about the delights of competing against "able bodied" drivers in Carriage Driving Events:

As for creating competitions that are only for the disabled, that is fine and good but I for one love being ABLE to compete on equal ground with everyone else. When I'm in my carriage I AM just as good as anyone else. Unless I tip over then I'm @## out of luck.

Diane Kastama (Ramona, CA - paraplegic and proud of it!)

Diane is in a wheelchair, works for a living (40+ hours a week), AND does all the horse stuff including training youngsters etc BY HERSELF without help. UPDATE: Competing in the Grade 1 class, Diane earned America a Silver Medal at the Third World Championships for Disabled Drivers in Germany in September 2002.

Disabled riders negotiate obstacles on Fell ponies

Carol Porter, Judi Ralls, James Marshall and reserve Heather Clark returned from the 2002 WCDD with a Team Silver Medal for Great Britain. James and Heather competed shortly afterwards at a Cumbrian driving event. In 2004 Brenda Hodgson, of Seaton, Workington, carried off the Individual Gold medal in the Pairs competition.

Ponies in the RDA

Fell ponies are widely used by local centres helping both adults and children with disabilities. Their determination to take care of themselves translates itself into a wonderful ability to take care of others.

Swindale Rose aged 7 to a Norfolk cart Swindale Rose, foaled 1980, was rescued from a "meat wagon" by Sarge Noble when she was three. She went to Brough to be broken in, and spent five years with Sue Millard and her family. After a career with them in leisure driving, a little ridden showing, some driven eventing and private driving, she was bought by Brenda Hodgson (see above) and Hazel Hindmarch.

With Brenda, she qualified as a Riding and Driving for the Disabled pony, and was driven to a specially adapted carriage for a couple of seasons in cross country eventing. After that she bred several foals for Hazel, and then went to SW Scotland where up to 2004 she took care of disabled riders and drivers.

She was an extraordinarily bold and unflappable pony, who took most things in her stride, including people on crutches, people in wheelchairs, and the wheelchair ramp falling off her carriage. Her attitude was one of "Come on, you silly human, sort it out! Do I have to do everything for you?"

Fell pony mare pulling a cart designed for a disabled driver and ablebodied assistantHere she is at Lowther Show, with a wheelchair bound driver and an able bodied whip as passenger/groom. She paraded there in 2002, 03 and 04 and was still ready to flirt with any good looking Fell who came within range!

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Last updated 23 May, 2021 .
Copyright © since 2000 The Fell Pony and Countryside Museums.