The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: The benefit of doubt

  • 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...

    On a day-to-day basis things were going well with Munch, our new pony.

    With Sweetie, his predecessor out of the picture, we had put the feelers out for a loan companion for Munch and out of the blue, Trigger had arrived.

    A small sheep trailer rattled into the yard one morning and a high-pitched squeal emitted from inside. As the ramp was lowered, peering curiously from the dark depths of the trailer was an adorable five-year-old mini-Shetland pony. Full of life and charged with the spirit of enquiry, his little trotters clattered down the ramp and into the light, revealing his full miniature glory.

    Unbroken and bursting with character, this hairy little fellow has the ability to melt hearts with one glance and very quickly he developed a fan club, which continues to grow by the day.

    Luckily, his number one fan is Munch, and a great friendship and bond has formed between the two. Trigger’s only deficiency being that he is unable to scratch Munch’s back given that his head comes only as high as his shoulder!

    Continued below…

    Munch had already settled well into the yard routine and the arrival of Trigger cemented that. Despite our misgivings about him being unwilling to hack out alone, Munch did indeed prove to be a great “lone hacker” albeit with me tagging along on foot or on a bike. The regular whinnying soon died down, and after a month he had relaxed into the steady, pleasant hacker we had hoped for.

    But it wasn’t all roses in the garden. There were a few hidden and rather sharp thorns.

    Munch’s predilection to bucking when jumping was an ongoing and niggling concern. He most certainly had a terrific jump in him, but he would insist on following it with a kick out from behind. Often it was a small single hump, but sometimes it was bigger and a challenge to sit to. While it wasn’t exactly malicious rodeo-style bronking, it was hardly confidence-inspiring behaviour for a novice rider just off a 12hh first pony, and it was something we wanted to cure.

    Having spent many an hour Googling possible causes and solutions we decided the best course of action was to put ourselves straight into the hands of a professional instructor to help us and we began a course of regular jumping lessons in earnest.

    The bucking proved to be intermittent and frustratingly random. Sometimes it would be after a big jump that stretched his abilities, another time it was after a long stride into the fence, sometimes it was if he had been put at a fence incorrectly. Another time there appeared to be no logical reason whatsoever. Immediate post-buck chastisement resulted in further bucking, objections and a general indignation then a relenting until the next time.

    On the plus side, daughter was certainly gaining the “experience” we had hoped Munch would give her — just not the kind of experience we had anticipated!

    His bucks never had her off, although there were some close calls, and after a while, she had learnt to ride them and while not exactly pleasant, she was becoming less fazed by them.

    We examined our options and decided we had two courses of action.

    Part A involved some medical and equipment checks to ensure that all was in order. Part B involved a get-tough approach on the basis that we had covered all other angles and following a process of elimination the response was behavioural. It was set to be a busy, challenging and undoubtedly, expensive time ahead!

    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 (21 December 2015)

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