It’s not all about Pony Club mums — what about the Pony Club dads? H&H’s showing editor Aimi Clark harks back to the useful jobs that used to fall to her semi-horsey father in a female-dominated world…
My dad was the minority. At most Pony Club rallies, camps and lessons he was the only man there. He’s confident with horses, but with that chilled-out “it’s the taking part that counts” dad-like way. These are the jobs he became particularly good at:
1. Putting in studs
It doesn’t matter how many tutorials you watch or how many people you get advice from, sometimes this job requires a bit of brute strength. They get wise to this back-aching job though — and when you grow up you have do it yourself…
2. Driving the lorry
Because I was too young, obviously, but most dads enjoy driving large vehicles. Although I still tease mine about the one time we ended up in a ditch…
3. Keeping an eye on the scoreboard
Regular updates and a mysterious ability to go and check it without anyone noticing. “If you go clear you could win this”, he’d report — normally just before my pony refused at the first cross-country fence.
4. Tightening the girth and last minute advice
This vital final check is usually followed by “don’t forget to kick”.
5. Cleaning boots
Arguably the best dad job — just sneak your riding boots next to his office shoes and they’ll be sparkling by the morning
6. Fetching things
I personally drew the line at getting dad to tack up when he once put a grackle on back to front. But fetching numbers, buckets of water and your whip once mounted — yes please!
7. Feeding polos
Why is it that dads always have a never-ending supply of mints (and feed most of the pack at a time)?
8. There’s always next time…
A regular phrase in the lorry on the way home — Dads are very good at hiding disappointment…
9. Say “well done” to the winner
…And turning Pony Club results into life lessons: always congratulate the winner, smile even when you lose, never brag — and don’t even think about blaming the pony.
10. Eating ice cream
How better to pass the time in between phases/classes (or the dressage bit) than visiting the ice cream van (and trying every flavour)? Ice cream is also useful for bribing him to wait around for the results (and discover you’ve just missed out on a rosette in 11th).
11. Reporting how many others there are until your turn
In the collecting ring, of course, coupled with putting up practice fences. Very important dad jobs.
12. Pointing out a dirty bit
Normally the pony’s ears or tail, the bridle’s headband or my hat silk.
13. Rolling up bandages
Always a good one — as long as you don’t mind them being rolled the wrong way.
14. Putting on hoof oil
An easy job for even non-horsey dads or, if your pony is naughty (like mine), they are good for holding up a leg to limit fidgeting while you paint.
Here are 11 things you need to know…
15. Passing judgement (of sorts)
On the rare occasion dad makes it over to the dressage arena, it’s normally safer not to pass judgement. Although there was the time he proudly announced he’d spotted my horse cantering on the wrong leg.
It was counter canter.
A particularly sad dad job to grow out of…
Have you got a Pony Club dad? Send a picture of your Pony Club dad in action and some details about how he helps you out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note images must be copyright free.