After 13 viewings of ponies on her hunt to find the perfect one for her daughter, Kate Flynn at last has some luck. But it turns out that owning a new pony has its challenges too...
It was a day that Daughter and I had long dreamt of but had lost hope would ever happen. Of course, during our search for a pony, we were never really naïve enough to believe that the “perfect” Pony Club pony ever existed, but we did have a clear picture of what we were looking for, and our extensive and painful hunt for the “perfect” pony had proved to be just that — extensive and painful — not to mention expensive, time consuming, eye-opening, amusing… I won’t go on — you get the picture!
But now, joy of joy, the day had dawned for us to collect our own version of the Holy Grail – Munch! A 14.1hh six-year-old confidence-giving Pony Club pony who despite his tender age, had notched up an impressive CV and appeared to have the ideal temperament — sensible and safe, endorsed by those who knew him.
It had been a couple of weeks since we last laid eyes on him, and as we rattled into the yard with our trailer, we experienced a tummy-churning sense of anxiety.
Munch was ready and waiting with his coat and boots on, doing what we have learnt he really does do best — eating — Munch by name, Munch by nature.
Rather like a bag-lady, all his belongings had been stuffed into black bin liners — all that was missing was the shopping trolley. We piled them into the car and Munch was unceremoniously shown the ramp, at which point he momentarily planted his two front feet in a show of what…?
Ignorance, stubbornness, fear… had we bought a non-loader — a tiny rush of alarm coursed through me, but I needn’t have feared, a quick slap on the rump and on he went.
The former 12-year-old owner looked on with an admirable sense of self-control, watching her beloved pony being spirited off to a new home. Okay, she had her all-singing all-dancing replacement BE pony already in the field, so perhaps she really had been ready to move on from Munch, but nevertheless, I thought it might be best for us to ship out pronto to limit any sad farewells. As we prepared to pull away, the mother popped her head through the car window, “We would really like to keep in touch,” she said.
“In fact, please let us know when you decide to sell him, we may like to have him back for our niece who is just too small for him at the moment.” God, that felt good! She didn’t have to say that did she? Did she? Well, whatever, it engendered a warm feel-good sentiment, endorsing our purchase, as we set off up the motorway, Munch whinnying loudly in a toodle-pip to his yard-mates.
A couple of hours later, we pulled in at our destination. We are very lucky that we can keep our horses at home. Of course this does come with its advantages (do what you want, when you want, how you want) and quite a few disadvantages, too (limited facilities and no on-hand experts to help). However, as we lowered the ramp, wondering what sort of reaction we were going to get from Munch to his new surroundings, we were in no need of expert advice, as he calmly ambled off the trailer taking it all in his stride. Result!
We parked him in his new stable for an hour or two with a haynet, whilst we awaited the saddler. We had opted not to buy his saddle and therefore urgently needed some kit. When she arrived, and he was saddled up with Daughter on board, this hardened, seen-it-all-before horsewoman watched closely, and uttered words that, for the second time that day, warmed my heart, “He’s spectacular. Where did you find him?”
This was a phrase I was to remind and fortify myself with many times over the forthcoming few months as we got to grips with Munch and his “new pony” challenges. They say first impressions count and believe me, I’ve had to hang onto those a few times! But for now, the honeymoon period was in full swing.