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In Memory of Donna Norcross
January 26, 1941 - July 30, 2018

The finger can be pointed at a little three year old girl for the beginning of the oldest Shetland pony farm in the country.

The year was 1944 when her mother saw a "For Sale" ad, advertising a Shetland pony. Mother sent Father after that pony, Malta #22127, also affectionately known as Queenie. Then a stallion was bought, "King Howard", and the first foals were named Prince, Princess, Duke and Duchess, the start of Royal Pony Farm.

The "Royal" prefix has been registered with the ASPC since 1948.

A little girl's dream came true and that little girl was Donna Norcross. A life-long enthusiast, she was still talking ponies and Shetland history up to the last. Donna passed on July 30, 2018, appropriately the first day of Shetland Congress. Donna love Congress, showing, visiting and talking ponies with everyone. Her parents, Howard and Arris Richardson, were as smitten with Shetlands as Donna was.

They bred many in the 1940's, 50's and 60's, the hey-day of the Shetland ponies. This allowed Donna to be surrounded by many ponies, and we mean many, many ponies! Also, the opportunity to have her pick of which ones to halter, drive, ride and even teach tricks to. Donna left the Shetland ponies behind when she married Bob Norcross. Instead of ponies to fill her down time, she golfed, fished and snowmobiled.

When losing Bob after only 25 years of marriage, she came back home and worked alongisde her parents and Bob Leland in breeding some very notable Shetlands. Donna bred some great stallions, broodmares that would become the cornerstone of many breeding programs and some very nice show ponies. Some of her well known stallions are Royal Splish Splash, Royal Spun Gold, Royal Freckles, Royal Spun Charmer, and Royal Kryptonite. Donna was especially proud of Kryptonite, as he was her first pony to go to Europe.

A few of her broodmares that have made an impact in the Shetland world are Royal Cherry Surprise, Royal Heart A Fire, Royal Connect A Dot, Royal Gold Mica, Royal Shimmer, Royal Sweet Talker, and Royal Bold Flair. A few well known show ponies she bred are Royal Emperor Kuzco, Royal Mystro, Royal Aeuthentic Gold, Royal Rock Star, Royal Porcelain Doll, Royal Special Effects, Royal Irresistible, ad Royal Crusader. Do you have a pony with tiny ears and they have the innate ability to slip their halters? Blame the Royal pony bloodline. Donna was also a big proponent of pretty heads, always being sure the MCSBA show had the "Pretty Head" class. She was president for many years of the Midwest Classic Shetland Breeders Association. Her parents were original members. Donna is now up there, sitting in a chair, telling everyone the history of the Shetland pony and how everyone needs at least one! She has now joined her father in the Shetland People Hall of Fame.


In Memory of Aris Richardson
April 25, 1921 - January 11, 2019

"Well for heaven's sake", we can all hear Aris saying that.

The matriarch of the Royal Pony Farm, Aris Maxine Brown Richardson, passed away January 11, 2019, at the grand age of 97. She was greeted at the pearly gates by husband, Howard, daughter Donna and a large herd of Shetland Ponies.

Aris was born on the family farm in Webster City Iowa on April 25, 1921. At the tender age of 19 she wed Howard Richardson. They started their family on the "Richardson Prairie Farm" located between Webster City and Blairsburg Iowa. This is where Richardson Royal Pony Farm began in 1944. In 1958, Howard and Aris packed up the family and the ponies and moved to the Story City Iowa area. At this time, I-35 did not exist, there was a simple rock road that ran past their farm. The Royal ponies were pastured on both sides of the road with a tunnel connecting the pastures. This author remembers the site, as a little 8-year old girl. This practice was to end in a few short years with the construction of I-35.

Aris with Royal Red Viking
at his 30th birthday
Aris was a dedicated farm wife that supported her husband and family. This support included getting involved with the Shetlands. She knew her way around a pony! She began by getting ponies ready and holding them at shows. As the kids got older her duties increased, she became the organizer. The right number to the right pony, the right pony to the right exhibitor, and the right exhibitor to the right class. Time went by and she was finally able to sit back with best friends Karma and Bob Leland, watch the shows and tell the stories. Aris also took interest in fowl. Her favorite being peacocks and bantam chickens. There are still a few birds left at her farm being taken care of by son, Brian. She also picked up Polly, the parrot, over 50 years ago who now resides in Texas with daughter, Shirley.

She is survived by daughter, Shirley Moore of Amarillo Texas and son Brian Richardson and his wife Janet of Story City, Iowa, 5 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and Polly the parrot.