Bobbysocks is a BETA winner!

Bobbysocks is a once-in-a-lifetime pony – and that’s official! This gentle-natured Welsh bay gelding, hero to hundreds of children, has been crowned winner of the BETA Year of the Horse competition.
The award, launched by the British Equestrian Trade Association as part of the 2014 Chinese Year of the Horse celebrations, invited entries from everyone with a favourite horse – from cuddly family pony to an equine superstar that had inspired them.
As nominations rolled in, finding that elusive horse or pony proved an incredibly difficult task, but in the end there could only be one winner – and Bobbysocks, all 12.2hh of him, stood out from the rest.
This 26-year-old golden oldie with three striking white socks has enjoyed a lifetime of helping others. In his younger days, he hunted and competed at both regional and national level but, on retiring from competition, he has taught countless children with disabilities to ride as an RDA volunteer pony.
Bobbysocks, who was nominated by RDA volunteer Susan Tomkins, lives with Dawn Whitmore-Kirby, who runs the Meadow School of Riding, in Woodhouse Eaves, near Loughborough, Leicestershire. They are both thrilled that this “calm, well-behaved and patient” pony has won and have chosen a specially commissioned portrait of Bobbysocks as the prize.
“He has spent his life helping other and always doing what was asked of him,” said Dawn. “He has won so many things but never had a trophy of his own – until now. We are thrilled that he will have his own portrait, which we shall put up in the new Portakabin classroom we are building.

“Bobbysocks really deserves this award – he is such a character and ever so cheeky. If ever there is any trouble in the field, it’s never down to him, but he’s always there – he’s our Just William. Before he came to us, he was a bit of a jumping machine, lively and full of energy, and he can still be like that if a regular rider is on him. Put a disabled kid on him, though, and he slows down and plods around and just seems to know that he needs to take care of them.”
Bobbysocks is going into partial retirement this autumn after years of giving happiness to the many children that rode him. “He will work when he wants to,” added Dawn, “and, when he wants to stay in the field, he can.”
BETA executive director Claire Williams said that the judging panel had a really tough job in choosing the winner:  “It was not easy, but Bobbysocks seems to have made such a big difference to a number of peoples’ lives that he was the natural choice,” she said. “We wish him the very best and hope he enjoys a well-deserved retirement.”
The BETA Year of the Horse competition was launched at the beginning of the year, with nominations closing on 29 August. Nominations were made online at the BETA website,, or via forms available from participating tack shops.

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