Former graded Friesian stallion excels as RDA horse

  • A former graded Friesian stallion and dressage horse has shown old horses can learn new tricks by becoming one of the trusted mounts of a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group.

    Samson, aged 19, was donated to the Unicorn Centre in Hemlington, near Middlesborough in November 2008 when his owners, Neil and John Howe of Potto, North Yorkshire, decided to move abroad.

    The 16hh Friesian horse was not gelded until late in life, having stood as a graded stallion for six years, but has settled into life as one of 20 horses and ponies at the riding centre and is described as a “safe and comfortable ride”.

    Chairman of the trustees at the Unicorn Centre, Julie Elphee said: “Some people did wonder if a Friesian would be a suitable RDA horse but Samson has become a useful addition.

    “His ability to react according to the rider on board has resulted in him becoming very popular.”

    And Jane Slevin, of the Friesian Horse Association said: “Friesian horses love human contact and I think that’s why Samson is so in his element at Unicorn, however although they are kind and willing they are not always a novice ride.”

    She said a Friesian, called Riemkje, was on the British para-dressage squad with Emma Kent for a number of years. The mare has now retired.

    The Unicorn Centre would be interested to know if there are any other Friesian horses working with RDA groups.

    Tel:01642 576222.

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