A pony express rollercoaster at the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in California is under state investigation after an accident last Thursday in which ten people were injured. Riders sit astride saddles and lean forward over the necks of model ponies as they charge around a modest course of rises and falls. As one troop of “ponies” was setting out, it met one of the inclines, slowed and finally rolled back down the hill into another pony troop in its “stable”, landing ten people in hospital over night. Thankfully they are all out and well. LA Times story and artist’s impression of the ride here.
The rollercoaster ponies’ performance sounds exactly like that of the hired Connemaras that my family tried to ride up the Gap of Dunloe during one wet and windy Irish holiday in the 1980s. The ponies went about half a mile, turned and headed for home. Mum and I managed to get them pointed the right way after a struggle, but it was too late for my father and brother, the nonriders, who were helpless, and rapidly disappeared back down the track towards the stable yard.
I have a feeling that perhaps the owners of Knott’s Berry Farm weren’t looking for quite that level of authenticity in a pony ride.