The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: exploring all angles

  • 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...

    Be honest, now. How many of us girls have invested in a drop-dead gorgeous pair of shoes only to find half an hour after putting them on, that they pinch like mad and, quite frankly are completely unwearable without an accompanying gargoyle-like facial grimace reflecting the pain?

    With a certain pair of recently purchased, excruciatingly torturous stilettos in mind, I got to wondering whether perhaps the new saddle we had so carefully and professionally had fitted for Munch was the possible cause of his habitual post-fence bucking.

    Could it be pinching him, slipping forward, pressing on his back….? Who knew? So, one afternoon, we decided to try him in a few alternatives to see whether he would keep his feet on the ground. Our instructor begged and borrowed a veritable raft of saddles from his own tack room and those of his clients and turned up laden with thousands of pounds worth of equipment to try.

    Continued below…

    A visit from the saddler

    One after the other we saddled up and Daughter and Munch toured the arena, popping fences and trialling the tack. Our experiment proved to be inconclusive as Munch randomly bucked to suit himself, regardless of the saddle on his back. A visit from the saddler to double check the fit of his own saddle revealed nothing, although she did adjust the fitting slightly to lift it further off his shoulders, but still that did nothing to improve the situation.

    We regrouped and considered our options. We’d checked his muscles, we’d checked his tack, I’d even had his mouth and teeth looked at — all were fine. Last stop was a check over by the “chiro-vet” – a lady who practiced both aspects of equine veterinary care.

    On our appointed day, we loaded Munch into the trailer and trundled off to the practice where he was put through his paces; lunged in an arena, trotted up, flexion tested and pronounced well and truly sound as a pound. I knew that I thought somewhat petulantly to myself — tell me something I don’t know….

    Next, he was taken indoors and given the once over, manipulation and massage interspersed with the odd high velocity thrust. Munch was unperturbed and showed no signs of his bucking antics this time, despite a warning to the vet from the “healing hands physio”, who had rather depressingly labelled him aggressive and one to beware of.

    A certain amount of stiffness on the left resulted in a treatment of acupuncture in the shoulder. It is perhaps an understatement to say that Munch was not keen on this, and the needles left his body pinging out like bent darts.

    Fighting fit and on top form

    As we walked back to the trailer the vet announced her conclusion: “He’s fighting fit and on top form.”

    There was nothing physically wrong with him that would cause the bucking – did I detect a rye glint in Munch’s eye as his fitness was declared?

    So, we had exhausted all our avenues of investigation. It was a double-edged result – great to know for sure that all was well, but disappointing that we had not been able to button the issue once and for all.

    We concluded that we should simply carry on and see how he progressed, and so one fine Saturday afternoon, we threw caution to the wind and joined a Pony Club cross-country training session hosted by our instructor.

    Having had private cross-country lessons, we knew this was Munch’s forte. He is a fabulous cross-country pony, bold, fearless and extremely capable, but this particular day… he wasn’t in the mood. No, he just wanted to stand with his friends and very quickly single post-jump bucks escalated into a series of rodeo bronks designed to be at best unsettling and at worst unseating.

    Watching the spectacle unfold with horror, as wafer-thin Daughter was catapulted rag doll like across the field, I overheard another watching Pony Club mum utter: “Ooh, you little $*!*”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    Daughter returned intact but shaken, and on reaching his friends Munch settled down as meek and mild as a newborn baby.

    My instructor and I looked at each other — there was absolutely no doubt this was bad behaviour. Pony Club camp was just six weeks away and Munch was already booked in and paid for. With this goal in mind, Reform School was now firmly on the agenda.

    Read Kate Flynn’s ongoing 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 (4 January 2016)

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