The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: all hands on deck

  • 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...

    Having dropped Munch and Daughter off at camp a wonderful calm feeling descended upon me. I had done everything within my power to get my pair prepared and now they were gone for a whole week, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

    Normally that feeling of powerlessness is shortly followed by a rush of anxiety, but this time, there was none of that! I felt a release, deliverance even.

    However, whilst I was quite content to float about Munch’s deserted stable, a certain 9hh companion Shetland was not so impressed at having lost his mate and indeed, his purpose in life. Trigger’s shrill whinnies could barely be heard above the thump of his tiny stumpy legs and trotters as he cantered up and down his field calling for Munch.

    I reflected on the irony of the companion pony, who is only a companion when there’s another to befriend. Perhaps we needed a third to keep the companion company…

    Continued below…

    Parent duties

    Any thoughts I’d had about a little holiday whilst Daughter was away were quickly crushed with the arrival of the list of duties required of campers’ parents.

    With a minimum of eight tasks for each set of parents, I quickly realised that I was going to be following a well-beaten path to camp, almost every day.

    My first duty was overnight camp patrol. As I “snuggled” into my rock hard camp bed in the girls’ tent, I realised how it helps if you have natural headmistress tendencies when it comes to trying to control a dozen teenage girls revved up and intent on staying awake all night.

    The cheery, chirpy “mornings” of the breakfast team were returned by a mumbling waxen-faced gargoyle desperate for a shower and a soul-reviving coffee.

    Camp is all about lessons, and one this camp rookie quickly learned was about being seen to pull your weight or face the wrath of the other Pony Club mums. One evening, a small team of five mums, myself included, were completing the dinner service.

    A gargantuan pile of cooking pots and pans awaited the washing up bowl. There was nothing for it but to roll up your sleeves and set to. But one Barbour-bedecked, beautifully groomed thoroughbred of a mum suddenly found someone she urgently needed to speak to.

    Whilst the merry band of four scrubbed and washed our way through layers of baked on macaroni cheese, she chatted and when she could extend her conversation no longer she loitered, looking busy piling up clean dishes and stacking water jugs.

    By the time she had finished making the salt and pepper look pretty, we galley slaves had quite clearly all but finished. Feeling safe, she tripped into the kitchen area in polished wellies. Surveying the scene, she trilled, “Is there anything left to do?” A ripple of silent resentment coursed between the ‘workers.’

    “Not really,” replied an old-hand at the Pony Club camp game. “If you could just empty the food waste buckets in the pig pens and wash them out, we’re all done!” The worst heave-inducing job had been deftly passed to the task-dodging thoroughbred, and as we sipped our wine we watched a little bit of camp-style retribution unfold before our eyes!

    The magic of Pony Club camp

    Of course, the regular trips to bring cakes, serve breakfasts, put up showjumps, wash up after dinner, not to mention provide Daughter with a running laundry service meant that I was able to catch up with the progress of Munch. I was heartened by reports that after a slightly sticky start with a minor category bronk in the first ride, Munch had settled in well and was towing the line nicely.

    By the end of the week, at the one-day event, the pair were storming across the cross-country course – no bronks, no stops, no hesitation a clear round! The last day, however, was heralded with torrential rain. Dressage and showjumping were challenging to say the least as slippery grass turned the courses into veritable skating rinks.

    Suffice to say, Munch let himself down under these conditions, particularly in the showjumping where he simply downed tools — he’d had enough and wasn’t playing ball. It was a humiliating and disappointing end to what had been a fantastic week for a first time camper.

    Nevertheless, Daughter was positive, overall Munch had been brilliant, his bronking party tricks had been buried and the rider-pony partnership had been cemented not to mention some great friendships formed amongst the girls. As we trundled off home, damp and tired, I reflected that the British legend that is Pony Club camp had worked its magic once again.

    Read Kate Flynn’s account of finding the perfect pony

    Don’t miss the next instalment of Kate Flynn’s account of owning a new pony, on the Horse & Hound website next Monday (25 January 2016)

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