When did you get your first pony? Was it something you had to work to get or are you from a family of horse riders?
Are you from a horsey family? I wasn’t so I’m not sure where my love and obsession with horses came from, it has just always been there.
I used to imagine that my ride on toddler plastic horse would magically come alive. Any sign of a horse on the road outside the house, in a field as we were driving along, at a fairground for pony rides. I was instantly attuned to its presence. Announcing; look there’s a horse!
Moving To The Country
When I was 8yr we moved from the town to the country and guess what…the surrounding neighbours had horses. It wasn’t long until I was pleading, probably daily, to have my own. I started weekly riding lessons, helped out at the riding school before my lesson, covered my bedroom walls in posters of horses and immersed myself in Pony and Horse Sense magazines. At any given opportunity I would go to the saddlery shops and look around, wishing I had a pony to buy things for. The lovely smell of the leather, there’s nothing quite like it.
Meeting New Friends with Horses!
When I started high school that is when the fun began, I had friends with horses! Some of them were in The Pony Club and of course I needed no encouragement to tag along. Now, in those days you really did need your own pony to be involved in Pony Club, there was none of this Pony Club affiliated to a riding school stuff that there is now. So, I brazenly asked someone that I went to school with if I could borrow her pony so that I could join them for Pony Club camp. I should add here that I was particularly shy as a child and not very good at making conversation with people I didn’t really know, but I was desperate. Luckily for me she had a new young horse that she wanted to take so I was able to borrow Dandy. A little grey pony that was probably about 13hh.
Pony Club Camp
One afternoon a week or so before camp I went to try Dandy out and that was it. I got in touch with the district commissioner, Marie Corr, of Killultagh Old Rock and Chichester Pony Club to join and book onto camp. Marie was a lovely lady, a little scary on initial meeting but a complete heart of gold and passion for horses.
I’m not afraid to admit, camp was a pretty steep learning curve. When you are 12yr you think you are pretty clued up but, I knew very little. It wasn’t as if my mum or dad could help me out as they knew less than I did. It rained for most of the week and I lived in damp clothes as I only had two pairs of jodhpurs, but I was living my dream of owning my own pony, so it didn’t matter.
My First Pony Arrived
Following the trip to camp and many, many more months of pleading, getting moved up a set in school, I was eventually rewarded with my very own pony! She was a mare called Monica, about 14,1hh, cream in colour with blue eyes. Cream with blue eyes was unusual in those days and so not everyone liked her, but I loved her, she was my pride and joy.
Steep learning curve number two began when she arrived home and after a couple of weeks every time I got on her she napped, ran off, dropped her shoulder and ditched me. My mum suggested I asked a girl that lived locally to help. She was older and more experienced and so Monica didn’t even try to get her off, or at least if she did, she did a good job of hiding it. Anyway, with her help and some grit and determination I managed to stay on and Monica stopped trying to get me off.
Be Determined, Make the Most of Your Situation
I had several happy years with Monica. She was my mode of transport to go out and meet friends at the weekend and in the school holidays. We went to Pony Club Camp twice, managed a couple of Pony Club rallies, went to a couple of local shows we even managed a couple of hunts. In fact if my memory serves me correctly I remember the district commissioner Marie Corr hunting side saddle on a big grey horse.
Everything I did with my first pony I organised myself and usually hacked there alone. The camps were at the local racecourse about 2miles away (they still are at the same race course). I rode over and my mum and dad brought my kit, feed, bedding etc for the pony over in the car. The Pony Club rally was around 6miles from my home, so I hacked 6miles there, took part and hacked 6miles back. When I think back on it my mum must have been a nervous wreck, it was long before mobile phones so once I was out of sight she just had to wait until I came back.
A Great Big Thank You
Whilst my mum and dad weren’t horsey I am very thankful that they trusted me. I’m not sure how confident they were that I could and would look after a pony but I don’t think I let them down. Without their emotional and financial support I would never have been able to do it. I’m sure I was a right pain in the butt at times.
So that is where it all began. Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures as it was in the time before mobile phones and digital pictures.
What’st your story? Where did you get your horsey passion from?