Bobbysocks....a very special RDA pony!

Wenlo had the privilege of welcoming Claire from BETA, Ed Bracher & Caroline Ward from RDA National and Anna from BE Rural Business Awards to present resident RDA and Meadow School of Riding pony, Bobbysocks, with his prestigious BETA ‘Year of the Horse’ award.  His award is an absolutely stunning portrait, by artist Gabriele Laubinger, commissioned by BETA. After the unveiling of the portrait and the photo shoot, we all had a chance to talk about Bobbysocks and the amazing work of RDA over a hot drink and a piece of celebratory cake.  

When it came to writing the nomination for Bobbysocks, it was a pleasure as he has been an outstanding pony on so many levels, for so many people, especially as an RDA volunteer pony for over 16 years!  It was lovely to hear so many stories and experiences that people have had with him over the years.  Bobbysocks is such a special pony that has touched the hearts and souls of so many people and given each and every child, both able-bodied and children with disabilities, the confidence to learn to ride and their parents the confidence that their children are in 'safe hooves'.  He really is a superstar pony, truly one in a million.   

All of us at Wenlo are so incredibly proud that Bobbysocks has been given this award, from hundreds of national entries, this little pony proved himself to be deserving of the ‘Year of the Horse’ title and his beautiful portrait which we will hang at the yard for everyone to enjoy.  

Bobbysocks’ advert read like this 22 years ago……….

"12.2hh, Welsh, Bay, Gelding with three white socks. Every little girl's dream pony, easy to do in all respects. Lives on fresh air. Suitable for any rider, in all disciplines. Requires a loving home."

Dawn Whitmore-Kirby (his current owner), was asked to help find a pony for a young rider 22 years ago by an old client who had moved up North and were looking for the perfect pony for their child.  It seems he was perfect, as Dawn was calling them to say she had found what sounded like the perfect pony, her client called and said, “I’ve bought a pony, I hope you approve, but he was too good not to buy”.  It turned out that she had bought the very pony that Dawn was going to suggest – fate, they’d both read the same advert and Bobbysocks had found a loving home.  

When the young rider had grown out of Bobbysocks, he then came to Dawn, at our riding school on a 6 week trial and sixteen years later, he is still here at the grand age of 26 years old and has taught countless children to ride. 

A simple advert for Bobbysocks would not do him justice now and it would be far too long, he needs more of a CV, with a personal statement…….

He has had a career that proves him to be one in a million.  He has competed at many levels and proved himself to be a jumping machine.  He has been a competition winner at Regional and National levels, coming first in his class many times. 

Since retiring from competition, he has continued to teach so many children to ride and helped children and adults learn the craft of horsemanship at the riding school and at Pony Club.

He has helped adults with depression by being an amazing companion and has helped to teach countless children with disabilities to ride, (even wearing a pink Inky Dinky saddle, that all of his pony friends laughed at.)   

He has taught children with physical and learning disabilities to ride through being an RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) volunteer pony.  It is always difficult to explain the amazing power of a pony for a child with disabilities, so I asked one our parents to write about Bobbysocks and this is what she wrote..... 

"Not only should Bobbysocks win BETA Year of the Horse, he should win The Best Horse ever!!  When our quadriplegic, cerebral palsy, non-speaking son Brody had his first lesson on Bobbysocks, it consisted of him lying on a duvet on the pony’s back for all of minutes and even clenching or pulling his hands away when he was encouraged to simply touch the pony (sensory issues).  As parents we were happy that our son was benefiting from the movement of the pony and didn’t expect any more.

Since then we have walked with a DVD player playing Disney’s Mickey Mouse in front of Bobbysocks to encourage our son to lift his head to work on head control, again this is really all we are going to get out of Brody….?

11 months later, our son now sits on a saddle, (a pink Inky Dinky Saddle which suits Bobbysocks’ colouring), with support in his full riding gear and taps his foot to ‘walk on’, he even tries to say ‘walk on’ and is encouraged to pick up toys and drop them into a bucket.  He loves trotting and no more DVD player is needed.  Wow!!

Bobbysocks is calm, well behaved, listens to commands and he is very patient, especially listening to Mickey Mouse for months. Oh and a real trier, as he gets through those carrots with hardly any teeth and as a parent scared of horses, I don’t ever feel my son is at risk even when being encouraged to stroke or feed Bobbysocks his carrots.

He has been our inspiration to get our friend into the boxing ring and raise £645 for RDA!!

Bobbysocks is now famous within our family and friends, even Brody’s great nan has a Bobbysocks Christmas photo on her wall.  This special pony is not far from retirement so winning BETA Year of the Horse would be a lovely retirement gift.

Thank you Bobbysocks for all you have done for Brody and I’m sure will continue to do.

Love Brody’s family xx"

Bobbysocks is a special pony that has touched the hearts and souls of so many people and given each and every child the confidence to learn to ride and their parents the confidence that their children are in 'safe hooves'.  He really is a superstar pony, truly one in a million.

It has been said that if Bobbysocks were a human, he should be called ‘Just William’, with his socks around his knees and covered in grass stains, which just about sums up his character!  Bobbysocks is due to retire this autumn but will always be remembered by countless people as the real ‘once in a lifetime pony’ and his retirement is more than deserved after the years of happiness he has given and the consistent positive impact every day of his life to every one who’s been lucky enough to spend time with him.  


Bobbysocks & the media!

Bobbysocks featured in the Leicester Mercury, to the read the article click here.

To read Brody & Bobbysocks' story from the Leicester Mercury click here. 

Bobbysocks was on BBC Radio Leicester to listen click here.

Another feature in the Loughborough Echo, to read the article click here.

A special Thank You also goes to the Leicester Mercury for providing us with the fabulous photographs of Bobbysocks.