Settling into life with a new pony can have its own challenges, finds Kate Flynn, as her daughter gets to grips with Munch — a seemingly 'perfect' six-year-old 14.1hh gelding
Camp had been a great success. On balance Munch had excelled himself and Daughter had grown in confidence both in him and in her own abilities.
The summer holidays stretched out before us like a long and winding road, interspersed with a veritable sprinkling of summer shows, rallies and fun rides.
So it was with a certain sense of satisfaction that in spite of our recent, let’s just call them “new pony hiccups”, we had gone through the fire and come out only slightly singed!
It seemed we had finally got the pony we hoped he would be and we merrily booked up our diary with dates galore envisaging a be-ribboned summer of success. Of course, with ponies, things never quite turn out as you expect. Whilst we were enthusiastic, Munch had other ideas.
The first time we set out after camp, we chose a friendly local riding club to try a few showjumping classes.
In the warm up, Munch was showing promise, popping the fences with gusto. Being a cobby type, he’s never going to be the fastest thing on four legs, but he was proving to be a very clean and scopey jumper with bags of ability to spare… when he wanted to use it. And, there was the rub.
As Daughter entered the ring, the pair were announced over the tannoy and the bell rang.
Now you would be forgiven for thinking that Munch considered this to be the dinner bell, rather than a call to action. Daughter asked for canter and got… well, to be honest, nothing.
Munch wasn’t up for it today. His approach into the first fence was half-hearted to say the least and needless to say a refusal resulted.
On the second attempt he gave it a go, but it wasn’t until the fourth that he decided he’d make an effort and clear the rest.
Daughter came out wringing wet with the physical exertion required to get this pony round. We decided to try the working hunter class… perhaps he would offer more favourable consideration to a set of rustics. Munch was having none of that, either.
A final fling at the ridden pony showing class resulted in the judge sidling up to me at the end, “I think your pony needs a bucketful of oats,” she advised peering out from beneath her judge’s “wedding” hat. I mumbled something pacifying and we called it a day.
Do you miss the water fights and musical rides? Read on to discover what legacy Pony Club camp has left
An unfortunate theme for the summer…
Regrettably, this was to become something of a theme for the summer.
The day Munch had downed tools on the last day at camp, he had meant it.
Rather than standing at the side of the ring biting my nails in case he got a fence down, it was more a question of whether or not he would actually go round.
On one occasion, after a lacklustre performance that incredibly resulted in a low grade rosette, I had to physically haul him back into the ring to collect it!
We tried spurs, we tried competition mix, we tried a bigger stick, we even tried a feed optimistically named Turbo, an equine version of Berrocca, Lucozade and Mars Bars rolled into one kick up the backside, but all to little, or no avail. Given his ability this was extremely frustrating.
Yes, his bronking had stopped, but so had everything else! We considered all possibilities… perhaps he didn’t like hard ground, jumping on grass, uneven ground, warm weather, maybe he had a virus — or perhaps, just possibly, he was suffering with a severe case of bone idle-itis.
Now, you’re probably expecting me to complete this tale with one of those “you won’t believe it but it turned out to be …” explanations. The truth is, we’re still trying to work it out.
What I will say is that as the colder weather has come, Munch has turned into a different pony.
Forward, energetic and full of life, not to mention a superstar hunter… but that’s a tale for another day.