It seems some of us aren’t entirely honest with our partners and families about the true extent (and cost!) of our horsey hobby…
‘Ponies are like handbags, you can never have too many (just don’t tell my husband!)’* — Joanne Gubb, 41, Enfield
“I have several ponies the same colour for my children. My husband thinks it’s a “one in, one out” policy — but I search the country for these ponies and they’ve served the kids so well, I can’t bear to let them go.
“We currently have six ponies, all 11.2-12hh, plus my two horses. They are my little herd! Most of our shows are on Sundays, and my eldest non-horsey son plays football so my hubby is usually on a football pitch rather than at the stables. I never admit on Facebook how many horses I have. If anyone asks: ‘Is that a new one?’ I reply, ‘Noooo, I’ve had it ages!’ The greys always wear the same coloured rugs. It’s not deceitful, it’s on a need to know basis, and my husband doesn’t need to know!’
*Even Joanne’s yard manager says she never knows how many ponies Joanne has and that she’s ‘Queen of the crafty pony purchase!’
‘I pretended to my fiancé that my two ponies were one and the same!’ — Vicki McNamara, 29, Herts
“In August 2011, I had a 14.2hh dun gelding called Majic on loan when the opportunity to buy back my childhood pony, Paddy, came up.
“I already had four horses and didn’t want a lecture from my fiancé, Paul, about the cost of taking on another one, so I decided not to mention Paddy to him. As Paddy was also a 14.2hh dun gelding, I hatched a cunning plan. For the next few months, I made sure Paddy was in when Majic was out, and vice versa.
“Despite his workshop being right next to the stables, Paul never noticed that they were not actually the same horse. My cover was only blown when my niece accidentally brought Paddy in when I had Majic tied up on the yard.
“Paul literally did a double-take and said: ‘Hang on, there’s two of them? When did that happen?’ The whole yard collapsed laughing, because by then they had a sweepstake running on how long I would get away with it! Paul took it fairly well as he knew how devastated I’d been to part with Paddy in 2006, and I had a sharer to help pay his bills by the time he found out. He still married me, so obviously I was forgiven!”
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‘I’ve got a secret horse – and a donkey!’ — Alma Abrahams, 56, London
“I already had two beautiful PREs at livery when I decided I wanted a pony to show in hand. I hadn’t discussed this with my husband, but that didn’t stop me. I found Dante, a 12-month old Welsh Section A, and asked my friend who keeps her horses near my home if I could keep him with hers as a grass livery.
“I told my husband the pony belonged to my friend. ‘But she knows how much I like section As so she’s allowing me to play with him!,’ I said.
“When the time came to break Dante in and I needed to move him to livery, I told my husband that my friend had given me the horse!
“My second secret — and she still is a secret — is that I own another Iberian. I saw a story on Facebook about a group of horses going to slaughter at the Portuguese meat market. All were bought and saved apart from one young bay mare, an ugly looking thing.
“I couldn’t let her be killed because she was ugly! I paid for her and had her transported over from Portugal — then panicked. How was I going to hide her? An 11hh pony was easy enough, a 16.2hh youngster not so much! Another friend said she would keep Ami with her mares.
“However, a young horse needs education and riding, so I looked for a loan home for her. Ami is now with a lovely lady not too far from me and has blossomed into a beautiful, if a little sharp, horse.
“As for the donkey, Jakob — well, I wanted one, so I bought one! He is with a friend who has two other donkeys. I get to cuddle him three or four times a week. My husband would divorce me if he knew!”