In June of 1999 my beautiful, amazing daughter Alice was born in Peterborough District Hospital at 6.00pm. She was tiny weighing just 5lb 8oz. When she was born she was whisked away quite fast as she decided she wasn’t quite ready to arrive. But very quickly she was cleaned and looked over and her father brought her back to me all wrapped up and warm. He said she was gorgeous but had a poorly hand. Alice was born with a fully functional right hand but sadly, Alice only had a small palm and 2 rigid tiny fingers on her left hand. Despite this we very quickly learned that Alice was a very determined young lady right from the start!
We obviously wanted the very best for our daughter Alice and sought medical advice to see if we could improve her grip on her left hand in some way. We were put in touch with a brilliant surgeon called Professor Simon Kay at Jimmy’s hospital in Leeds. Professor Kay suggested a toe to hand transfer moving one rigid finger over and transplanting one of Alices’ toes from her right foot onto her left hand to act as a thumb. We hoped that this would give Alice more of a grasping action. We decided that it was in Alice’s’ best interest to proceed with this operation although it was a very very tough decision to make.
Unfortunately, after alot of massage and physio, the scar tissue wrapped itself around the tendon of Alice’s new thumb which resulted in another operation and a small bone graft. The scar tissue remained an issue which resulted in further tendon release operations over the next few years.
During these years Alice always had a passion for horses and ponies just as I did and still do. Alice’s first pony was a little cheeky Shetland called Jeelus when Alice was about 2. Her hand wasn’t an issue at this time as Alice just held onto the neck strap while I lead her and Jeelus around!! It wasn’t until Alice was about 6 and we decided to join Pony Club that we found we needed to do something about Alice’s reins.
In the beginning I used to make a loop out of the left rein and Alice used to hook her hand into the loop. This wasn’t ideal as the loop unraveled itself all the time and Alice couldn’t then grasp her rein. When we started Pony Club and Alice saw all the other children riding their ponies, she too wanted to ride just like them and Alice became very frustrated and upset that she couldn’t.
I knew I had to do something to help her. My sister was having some work done on her house and the workman told me he rode with one loop as when he was younger he was accidentally shot through the palm of his left hand leaving it paralysed, he very kindly showed me his reins, which were similar to the loop I tied in the rein but his loop was stitched onto the rein itself! This was great news for us and would be brilliant for Alice. I thought some more as just one loop would be quite restrictive if Alice wanted to shorten her reins whilst show jumping or even just out hacking. This is when I came up with the idea of 3 loops, one for walk, trot and canter!!
I also needed them to be fully adjustable so that the reins would fit any pony as children grow so quickly and our daughter Alice would soon outgrow her then 11.2hh pony Toffee!
I had the reins made just for Alice, she has never looked back and still rides with them today at 14 years old and with her 14.2hh pony Poppy!
Alice Reins were born!! 🙂