Jet the ‘Blue Peter Pony’

10 May 1982-12 December 2014

Anne shares her memories of Jet.

On Dec 12th 2014 we said a very sad final goodbye to Jet. He was 32 years and 7 months old. He had been at Barrow Farm for over 25 years, working hard for over 23 of them and enjoying retirement from riding since 2012.

Jet was a purebred Dales pony and was born in 1982 at The Raygil Stud in County Durham. Before Blue Peter viewers chose Jet as his name, he was known as Raygil John.

Jet being filmedHe was bought by the 1987 Blue Peter Christmas Appeal and then spent 14 months learning how to be an RDA pony. During that time he met and was ridden by The Princess Royal. Once fully trained he came to work at Barrow Farm and we were lucky to have him for the rest of his life. Working with him was a privilege, he was a very special pony who touched so many lives.

I still remember the phone call asking us if we would like to have him, it was a huge surprise, I did not watch Blue Peter and had not followed his progress. We arranged to go and see him before making a  decision.

I remember the day he came, a lovely sunny day, our riders and ponies lined up to greet him. The air was  electric with excitement as the big blue horsebox came down our lane. The camera team made him walk up and down the ramp four times before they were happy with the shot. From that very first minute his behaviour was impeccable, and we just knew he was going to be a very special pony. Tessa Martin Bird F.B.H.S. who had also trained Rags, the first Blue Peter Pony, had done a fantastic job of turning what I believe was a very  lively young pony into Jet, RDA Superstar.  Jet quickly proved himself to be a worthy successor to Rags.  Over the years he has been out and about helping to promote  both the RDA and the Dales pony breed. He has been to the Royal Show, the Ascot Races,  RDA’s 25th birthday, The London Harness Horse Parade and many many other places. At all those events he was ridden or driven by a disabled rider/driver.   I always trusted him to behave and he  never let me down.

Jet giving the opportunity to ride off-lead in the woods

At home at Barrow Farm, he got on with the really important job of being an RDA pony. He would be the pony of choice for assessing new riders, the one that stood endlessly at the block waiting for the rider to pluck up the courage to mount. He had a lovely safe feel to him and was always a fabulous confidence giver. He gave many riders their first taste of “doing it on their own”.  Jet could possibly do bending cones in his sleep, but as far as the rider was concerned, they were definitely in control!   For the more able riders, watching the smiles on their faces as Jet’s trot went into overdrive down the long side is something I will always remember. He always gave both rider and coach the confidence to push the challenge that little bit further.  Perhaps never more than at the RDA National Championships in 2008 when he gave our rider Emma her own special “magic moment” riding on her own in the magnificent indoor arena.

Emma who is both rider and trustee shared some of her memories of Jet in 2009:

Jet at National ChampionshipsHi my name is Emma I have severe cerebral palsy. I have been riding Jet for many years and have developed a very close bond with him. I have been riding for twelve years, and I used to need two side walkers to hold me on a pony. Since I have been riding Jet my balance has improved dramatically so much so, last year I went to my first regional competition off lead with no side walkers. I could only do this on Jet because he is so calm and patient. We qualified for the national competition. Jet was very lively at the nationals, it was scary for the people watching (especially Anne) but I felt completely safe on Jet, I really trust him. Whenever I see Jet I light up, he means so much to me if it wasn’t for Jet I wouldn’t be at the stage I am now. I can’t see myself loving another pony the way I love Jet.”
In 1994 Jet was trained to pull a carriage so that Barrow Farm could offer carriage driving as an alternative for people unable to ride.  Blue Peter followed his progress. He took to his new job with ease and  became a wonderful driving pony whilst still continuing with his ridden work.Jet driving

Jet was undoubtedly our most  versatile pony thanks to his many talents and very consistent temperament. Over the years he competed in dressage, show jumping, cross country and showing. Except for the show jumping he did these events both under saddle and in harness, with RDA and able bodied riders.  He happily did  everything asked of him,  was an absolute star at RDA competition and really helped put Barrow Farm on the map, at both regional and national finals. He  won Dressage, Tack and Turnout, Working Pony and Rider and the mounting competition, some of them several times.  He was a very special pony and is very much missed.