A lack of horsepower has put a halt on a Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) group’s popular carriage driving activities for some members.

Somerset Levels RDA driving group holds two sessions a week and also has a waiting list.

The group is desperately seeking a suitable new pony, with a calm temperament and standing at least 14hh, to fill the gap.

“Until a few years ago, we had three RDA-trained ponies, including a large pony that could be driven by some of our larger wheelchair clients,” said Somerset Levels group chairman Caroline Sturgess.

“Since then, our mid-sized pony has retired, and our large pony has returned to its owner.

“My own Dartmoor is our fourth RDA-assessed pony, but he is too small to pull our specially adapted carriage for larger wheelchair clients.”

This means the group is unable to provide therapeutic driving sessions for a number of its wheelchair-bound members.

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“A perfect example is John — a former cavalryman who suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to speak and bound to his wheelchair,” added Mrs Sturgess.

“His weekly session of driving our big pony from his wheelchair made a huge difference to his life.

“While we all struggle to understand what John is trying to say, a pony has a magic ability to understand him and do what he wants.

“This gave John the precious ability to be independent and in control, just for half an hour each week.

“We have a number of disabled people in very similar positions to John. Right now, we are unable to help them until we can find someone in Somerset who owns a large pony that could join our team.”

The sessions take place at Chalton Adams, near Glastonbury, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Contact Mrs Sturgess on volunteers@somersetlevelsrda.org or 01278 760621.

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