Oh, those heady, carefree days, when all you dreamed about was shows, and you hung all your rosettes up on a string in your bedroom. OK, so some of us still do this well into our 20s and beyond, but let’s look back to those childhood shows…
1. Someone’s mum had a tantrum
She was the one on the sideline shouting, ‘Leg on, Petronella, LEG ON! Give him a smack! Oh, he’s refused it. She’s been eliminated now. Well, THAT was a waste of five hours grooming him and driving here this morning. I won’t be doing THAT again. What a waste of money buying you a pony, Petronella, we should have stuck with piano lessons.’ Everybody was scared of her.
2. A child had a meltdown and refused to go into the ring at all
It was probably Petronella. Who can blame her, really?
3. There was a collision during the gymkhana
Steering a feisty Welsh Sec A while clutching an egg-and-spoon is a tricky business at the best of times. When there are several of you doing it at once, nature is going to take its course, and you’re going to end up in a big heap. This may indeed lead to onto the next point….
4. Someone broke their arm
Maybe not an arm. It could be a leg, or a tooth, but someone would inevitably break something. In the ‘normal’ world, this would put any organiser off arranging these events in future, but horsey people are tougher than that and the show would go on. You’d get a cast, which everyone from school and Pony Club would sign, and you’d be hailed a hero. The main downside was that you wouldn’t be able to ride for a few weeks.
5. Cries of ‘loose horse’
It was generally a pony, rather than a horse, but let’s not split hairs. Either it had escaped its trailer, or dumped its owner and made a break for freedom. With a trail of kids chasing after it like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, it would trot happily about, evading capture and snatching the odd mouthful of grass, and generally having a merry old time.
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6. Someone won everything
Like at school, when even though it was supposed to be random, all the sporty kids ended up in one house, there were always three or four kids who cleaned up at Pony Club events. Some people may have tutted a bit about this — the mums, mainly — but some of those kids turned out to be the eventers and showjumpers and dressage stars you now read about Horse & Hound, so fair play to them.