former Riding for the Disabled dressage committee chairman dies

  • Jonquil Solt, the former president of the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee who paved the way for disabled riders around the world, died on June 11 at the age of 88 after a long illness of dementia.

    “She touched so many people and changed the lives of so many people, always for the better,” said her son Quentin Solt.

    Born in 1933, Mrs Solt (née Denham-Davis) attended school in Gloucestershire. She worked for the family mail-order company JA Davis & Son, before traveling around the world, including New York and San Francisco, in the late 1950s.

    Upon returning to the UK, she followed her passion for horses and studied at Porlock Vale Riding School, where she obtained her British Horse Society Instructor Certificate. She then studied at St James’s Secretarial College and in 1961 became personal secretary to Lord McAlpine of the Alpine construction group. Around the same time, she met her husband Bobby, and the couple were married three months later. The couple had two sons, Timothy and Quentin, but Timothy died aged 13.

    Ms. Solt became involved in the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in 1965, and in 1980 she became chairman of the RDA’s first dressage committee. She traveled the world to raise the profile of para dressage and played a pivotal role in setting up the infrastructure to support national and international para dressage competitions, including the first World Championships in 1987. This has led to the inclusion of Para Dressage in the Paralympic Games for the first time in 1996, and Ms. Solt was in Atlanta as President of the Ground Jury.

    In 1991, she was appointed Vice-President of the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee and became its President in 1995. She was also part of the cooperation agreement which saw para dressage become an FEI discipline in 2006 – the first Paralympic sport to leave the International Paralympic Committee. Committee and join an international governing body, alongside able-bodied athletes.

    Ms. Solt has received numerous accolades for her tireless work and dedication to parasport. In 1999 she won the humanitarian category at the European Women of Achievement Awards and in 2003 was appointed OBE for her services to disabled riding. In 2013, she received the Paralympic Order for her contribution to the Paralympic movement.

    An RDA spokesperson said the RDA family owed Ms Solt an “enormous debt of gratitude”.

    “His development of para dressage and his absolute dedication to opening up the world of competition to our riders is a legacy that will live forever in the RDA. We have lost a true great, a pioneer in sport for the disabled who gave back so much possible for so many people,” she said.

    Mrs Solt was predeceased by Bobby in 2020. She is survived by Quentin, her daughter-in-law Susannah and her granddaughters Lexi, Jemima and Zara.

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  • Clyde P. Johnson