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Harry, 9, picks up the reins for younger sister Kitty’s fundraising RDA pony ride at Brook Cottage Farm Riding School despite never having ridden before





When nine-year-old Harry Stratford’s little sister began suffering epileptic seizures ahead of her sponsored pony ride, he picked up the reins and completed the challenge for her – despite never having sat on a horse.

Harry, who attends Rickling CofE Primary School, and mum Amy climbed into the saddle on Tuesday (April 2) in support of Kitty, 8, who was aiming to raise £400 for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) branch at Brook Cottage Farm Riding School in Furneux Pelham.

His efforts to ride three miles (5km) helped Kitty close in on her target. The RDA is fundraising to complete the final section of a 500m circular all-weather sensory track that will enable disabled youngsters and adults to enjoy the experience of riding out into the countryside in a safe environment.

Harry and his mum Amy proudly pose with their rosettes after completing the pony ride
Harry and his mum Amy proudly pose with their rosettes after completing the pony ride

Kitty, who has epilepsy, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and is autistic, took up riding only six weeks ago after mum Amy and dad Jonathan decided it might be beneficial for her.

Despite a hesitant start, she was loving every second of her equine experience until a series of seizures meant she was unable to complete the challenge.

“The first two weeks she refused to get on, but it’s now easily the highlight of her week,” said Amy. “She says she likes the ‘hot, sweet, soft ponies’.

Kitty enjoys her riding sessions with volunteers from the Riding for the Disabled Association at Brook Cottage Farm Riding School
Kitty enjoys her riding sessions with volunteers from the Riding for the Disabled Association at Brook Cottage Farm Riding School

“But I had to withdraw Kitty on Monday night because she was having back-to-back epileptic seizures.

“The RDA kindly let me ride for her, so Harry and I did it in her name. He was so scared – he’d never done it before!”

But riding gentle Fred and with his mum on board Holly, mother and son managed to complete the trek.

Amy said Kitty’s condition meant she suffered regular seizures, but that riding had helped to calm and relax her.

Harry, 9, picks up the reins for his little sister and completes her sponsored ride despite never having sat on a horse before
Harry, 9, picks up the reins for his little sister and completes her sponsored ride despite never having sat on a horse before

“The benefits of riding have far exceeded our expectations,” she said. “Kitty becomes responsive, calm, super-happy and relaxed.”

The family, from Rickling Green, has set up a fundraising page for donations. The money will help complete the track at Brook Cottage Farm which will eventually feature sensory plants, musical instruments, pergolas, a pond and a picnic area for riders to enjoy.



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