Four Good Legs

By Webb, Keith Lloyd | Contemporary Review, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Four Good Legs

Webb, Keith Lloyd, Contemporary Review

It was in 1959 when I first saw a handicapped child riding a pony. I was impressed at seeing the empty wheelchair left behind in the stable yard as she went off, riding along the hedgerows and bridle paths. Other than that I gave little thought to the matter subsequently, until in 1969 I was asked to undertake a pilot scheme at Queen Mary's Hospital for Children, Carshalton, Surrey. The purpose of this was to explore the benefits that might be derived by patients riding. Six riders were chosen, three mentally handicapped and three physically disabled. The scheme was scrapped within a matter of weeks! The benefits were so obvious that other staff clamoured for their patients to have the opportunity to ride too. For the rest of the summer sixty children from the hospital rode until the chill of the autumn mists brought the sessions to an end. My worst fears were that those who had helped would soon forget during the winter months and they would go on to do other things. The riders did not forget though. As I entered a ward during the bitter weather of the following March, a little, severely mentally handicapped child rushed up and hugged me round the knees and excitedly shouted 'Horsy! Horsy! Horsy!'

There are thirty-two London boroughs. Each has a population of between 200,000 and 300,000 therefore urban areas present a special problem. By the law of averages, there is going to be a higher percentage of handicapped people in large population areas. Two of the boroughs are responsible for 6,000 and 9,000 handicapped and elderly people respectively. Our early success encouraged us to commit ourselves to provide riding for disabled people in South London and the surrounding area. Such a service has to be able to continue regardless of season or weather. Thus the Diamond Centre for Handicapped Riders was built. At the present time the Centre caters for some five hundred riders a week throughout the year. The Diamond Centre was opened by The Princess Royal in 1974. Since then the Centre's sustained success and growing international reputation has been evident to all. If we are not to hold out false hopes to too many others in large urban areas, then more centres that can meet their expectations must be built. The same must apply world wide if riding is as important as some would claim.

Why should handicapped people ride? The first thing you and I notice is their disability. Many people do not get beyond that barrier. Riding a pony makes the rider, their carers and everyone else, aware of their abilities. Besides looking down on you for a change, you are having to look up to them both physically and socially. Riding a pony gives them the opportunity for non-verbal communication and an outlet for emotional expression. The experience of stroking the warm soft coat of a gentle but undeniably powerful animal is unforgettable. The pony accepts them as they are and does not make patronising concessions for their disability.

The freedom of movement that the pony gives brings the freedom of physical expression denied to many of them. The will to achieve more than they thought possible is stimulated in most riders. They, their physiotherapists, instructors and helpers can move mountains together. Imagine the freedom of movement that the pony gives to a blind person. The pony is a bridge whereby those children who have anti-social behaviour problems or who are withdrawn, can be reached. The standards of social behaviour expected by the adult world can be taught through the pony. Socially acceptable behaviour is the easiest path to being accepted as a person.

What is the relevance of riding in a world of such deprivation? Is it obscene to spend money on riding when there are so many people starving in the world? Will any of us, more fortunate, give up our recreation because of all that is wrong. We take for granted that such pursuits will enable us to cope better in our own lives. What is a luxury for most of us, can be a necessity for others. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Four Good Legs


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.