Riding Lessons Tees Valley - Riding For The Disabled Tees Valley

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

GOODBYE TO A SUPERSTAR: BIGGLES 1993 - 2014

This week we said goodbye to superstar RDA pony Biggles. He ended his days grazing peacefully with the sun on his back, at the home where he was born.

Maggie Tansley, Chair of the Unicorn Centre Trustees, bred Biggles, and he returned to her when he retired earlier this year.  This is Biggles’ story in Maggie’ words:

 

RDA ponies are a very special breed who are, for the most part, born not made. The story of Biggles is the proof of that.

We bred Biggles from a lovely Colliery mare we had on loan for a season.  He was a stunning foal, really eye catching, did well in the show ring and we hoped he would make the grade as a possible stallion.   He did sire a lovely colt, Gerry (now a hard working carriage pony) but he stopped growing at 18 months and never got beyond his 13.2hh, so we had him gelded at 3 years old.  His training started that winter after his third birthday and he took to everything we did with him without turning a hair and was such a fast learner.  We broke him to drive first and he really enjoyed it, then came the day that I got on his back for the first time.

That day was a dark, cold, frosty evening in February.   After a long-reining session in his riding tack, we arrived back in the yard and I stood by his side on a milk crate, then, very quietly, put one leg over his back and eventually sat fully in the saddle.   He was absolutely fine with this, so I put my left foot back on the crate and started to slowly bring my right leg over his back.  Unfortunately, the evening was very icy and, as I put my weight on it, the crate shot across the yard, leaving me with my right foot on the saddle, hanging around Biggles’ neck!   Roger, my husband,  was at his head and should have been able to help, but instead was helpless with laughter, so there I was left dangling upside down.   It could have been a nasty moment, but Biggles didn’t move a muscle, just stood there until I managed to get back on my feet.  I knew then that we had an RDA pony.

We continued his training until the Spring 1998, when I phoned Pippa Holt, who came and assessed him to join the team at the brand new RDA Unicorn Centre.  His career there was long and varied.   He was always a good therapy pony, happy to stand for a rider to be hoisted on and would carry a sheepskin, both things that need a very special pony with the right temperament.  It was amazing to watch him in a therapy lesson and see him adjusting his balance to correct a rider who was losing theirs.   He was not so forgiving to the able bodied though and his sense of humour would prompt him to put in a sneaky buck or use his surprising scope to clear a fairly small jump by a massive amount, to catch a student unawares.   You could almost see the smirk as they landed at his feet!

Biggles had his claims to fame too.  An eminent professor from a London teaching hospital, using the Centre to lecture on hippotherapy to physiotherapists, would always ask for Biggles to assist her.  This was not only because her white marker and sticky spots showed up well against his dark coat, but that he would stand perfectly still while she drew diagrams and stuck markers on him.   He was the favourite pony of a little girl who watched her sister ride at the Centre and was so anxious to be 5 years old so that she could ride him.  Well, her wish came true, she rode Biggles and they had their picture in the local paper.  He started her riding career off and she’s now a young lady, still riding and competing, thanks to him.  He made bigger news the time he qualified for the RDA National Championships.  Just before he was due to travel down to Gloucestershire to compete, he had an itch and rubbed all his lovely, long, flowing mane out, leaving big gaps and bits sticking up all over. What a mess!  A public appeal led to two lovely young ladies from Saks Hairdressers coming and weaving real (and very expensive) human hair-pieces into his remaining mane, so that he could look respectable for his big competition.  He didn’t win the competition, but he looked fabulous, and the publicity the Unicorn Centre gained from press interest was amazing.

Biggles was very much a stalwart of the Unicorn Centre team, being small enough to carry a small child, with enough bone for a light adult to ride him and the versatility to perform to the level of the rider.  

In 2012, he developed a tumour in his sinus passage, so was sent to Leahurst, the teaching hospital of the University of Liverpool Vet School.  A team led by Professor Derek Knottenbelt did an amazing job of removing it and he made a great recovery, returning to his therapy work.  Shortly before Christmas 2013, he looked after a very nervous first-time rider with great care, but, once she was dismounted, he collapsed on his way back to the stable.  The decision was made to retire him then and he came back home.  We were hoping that he would return to his first love and enjoy being our driving pony as well as giving rides to the younger members of our family.  Unfortunately, it very quickly became clear that it was not to be, so we gave him the best summer holiday we could, then said goodbye.  

Biggles was such a wonderful pony and a fantastic character, kind, calm and funny.  He will leave a big hole in our lives and be sadly missed by his many friends and admirers.
 

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityLatest News

Click Here

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityVacancies

Click Here

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityDiary Dates

Click Here

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityPhoto Gallery

Click Here

Riding Lessons & Services

RDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charityRDA, horse riding, riding lessons, riding lessons tees valley, riding for the disabled tees valley, riding for the disabled, pony care days, volunteering, dressage clinics, NVQ Training, show jumping, competitions, charity

The Unicorn Centre provides riding lessons and therapy for children and adults from 5 years old, both disabled and able-bodied. The Centre has 20 horses and ponies, carefully chosen for their temperament, size and ability to work with disabled riders, and a hoist facility for mounting onto ponies is available for wheelchair users... read more