I hate selling a good pony. It’s not just the awful trauma of parting with a precious animal that has stolen your heart and looked after your child as if she were made of glass for however many years, although that’s bad enough. It’s the process.

Fielding the phone calls, pouring out the pony’s life history time and time again, then hosting a string of would be buyers hoping you will find somebody to love him as much as you do. You have no idea who you are going to get.

A seller I met earlier this year told me a priceless story. She was selling her much loved little mare because she and her husband were emigrating to Canada.

“When are you going?” I asked. “When I have sold the pony,” she said, so you get the idea it was quite urgent. But even under pressure to sell, she said she had been forced to turn one prospective purchaser away. It was somebody who was looking for their first horse after taking riding lessons. Her riding wasn’t at all bad, but after the trial the two of them were standing together admiring the pony tied up in the stable yard. The buyer pointed at the pony’s hocks. “Why are his knees back to front?” she asked.

My daughter was jumping her beloved pony (pictured) the other day when she knocked a pole down with her foot. This is sadly one of the clearer signals that it may be time to move on to something bigger. While she is certainly not too heavy for him, she is growing like a weed. We had tried to discuss it before but found it very difficult to do so without it all ending in tears, because for the last four seasons he has been amazing.

The prospect of selling was therefore weighing heavily on her mind when she competed in her next working hunter class. The course was very demanding with clear rounds in short supply. The lovely smiley judge had a few words of encouragement for all the children as they left the jumping ring, but for my daughter she saved the ultimate accolade.

“If I could choose one pony to take home for my granddaughter,” she said, “it would be yours.” My daughter’s reasoning was impeccable. A lovely smiley judge like this one would offer the perfect, knowledgeable and kind home for her precious boy. So she lost no time in trying to close the deal on the spot, explaining that the pony would indeed be coming up for sale before too long. The judge, bless her, who was not expecting to be taken quite so literally, backpedalled in a very gracious way.

Frankly since that one failed attempt, we have been having major second thoughts. If, as we suspect, this pony is the best one we will ever own, why are we thinking of selling him even a day before we absolutely have to? So she plans to shorten her stirrups another hole or two, tuck her knees up under her chin, and hope her relentless growing spurt will slow down before next season.

JG