Thinking outside the (horse) box: Park Lane Stables ponies visit Teddington homes in lockdown

By Pauline Bezzina
March 29 2020, 12.25

Tiny ponies from a Teddington riding school are brightening residents’ days by visiting houses in the area.

Park Lane Stables riding school in Teddington is spreading smiles to the community with the help of its tiny lodgers.  

Natalie O’Rourke, 44, manager of the stables, said: “I had to think outside of the box. 

“I thought about all those people that are self-isolating, bored and lonely.

“If they saw a pony outside their window, it’s going to cheer them up.”

Self-isolation can be long and boring for children so it is no surprise parents represent the highest demand.

She said: “Children have something to look forward to and it just spreads the smiles.” 

Annies Whizz, the smallest, is a 15-year-old Welsh mountain pony.

He is also the star of the Riding for the Disabled scheme at Park Lane Stables.

Along with Rusty, a 16-year-old strawberry roan, Mini, a 26-year-old Connemara, and Red, 14, an Irish horse, he became very popular with the community and they now have fans of all ages.

Ms O’Rourke added: “We went to a house yesterday for a little girl’s birthday in self-isolation.

“It really made their day.”

Annies Whizz visiting self-isolating residents

The #tinyponyatyourwindow scheme, which started on March 16, is now in such high demand Ms O’Rourke lost track of how many visits they have done.

Ms O’Rourke said: “We took two ponies in Kingston hospital and they brought the children out of cancer treatment to see the ponies.”

She added: “We call ourselves the community stables because we’re here for everybody.

“The same way that anybody in the community can use the library or the swimming pool, we are here for everybody that wants to get involved.”

With more than 300 registered riders, a Pony Club activity for children and therapy riding for disabled people, Park Lane Stables is usually a very busy place. 

Self-isolation is also having an impact on the ponies, especially the ones which used to have busy days. 

Ms O’Rourke stated: “Because we’re a stable in the middle of London, the ponies need to be out as much as possible for their well being.”

She added: “The only saving grace for horses is that it’s spring, and they can eat grass.

“Because if this was winter it would be far more catastrophic financially.”

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