I have reached something of a milestone recently. ‘Pony Mad Mum’ is no longer a strictly accurate description, because we have bought our first horse.
After years of pony owning it feels like a big step, and I have been weighing up the pros and cons.
Firstly, there is a distinct air of glamour wafting around our new rather well-bred boy. If this was a relationship, I can’t help feeling I would be punching above my weight. But as a result of his exotic breeding, he is ridiculously thin skinned.
On his first day in the field he managed to acquire a small cut on his foreleg which has taken a disproportionate amount of time (and an antibiotic shot) to heal. I fear for my future vet’s bills.
I can no longer run both stirrups up while standing on one side. A mounting block is essential and if I had to get off part way round a hack I would be in serious trouble. If there was a rescue service for that kind of situation — the Rider Assistance Club (or RAC) for example — who could pop out and give you a leg up when you get stuck, I would happily sign up. On the plus side, I can now reach the blackberries at the back of the hedge.
People have often said to me that horses are ‘easier’ than ponies. And to begin with, he seemed a lot less opinionated than most of the ponies we have had over the years. He was mild mannered and obliging in the extreme and I was lulled into thinking that this horse owning business was a walk in the park. But as the weeks have gone by and he has settled in, I began to think I might just have bought another pony in a horse-sized frame. And lo and behold when I Googled his parentage, it turns out he is actually half pony, albeit a very smart one.
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The clues are as follows: he has learnt to throw his feed bucket out over his stable door when he has finished his feed. This sounds simple but in fact he has anti-weave bars in his stable so it’s trickier than you might think. He can undo pretty much any knot with his teeth. I have small loops of baler twine in each stable for tying up, and they are irresistible to him. He will unpick them, however tightly knotted, and drop them on the floor. Sandwiched between two stable mates, he always manages to pull their haynets through the bars so he can steal the last few mouthfuls of their hay. When I lead him out from another pony, he is like a naughty little brother in the back seat on a long car journey, constantly niggling, nipping and nudging and driving us mad.
I guess this makes him the perfect stepping stone — an 11.2hh brain in a 15.2hh body.Interesting times ahead!