The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: not what it said on the tin

  • 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...

    I imagine, like most people who sell a much loved pony, we were optimistic for the future of Sweetie, our beloved first pony who had gone off to a new home to make way for Munch, our long searched for and greatly anticipated new Pony Club steed.

    So, just a few days after she had left, it was with a lurch of the heart that I opened the following email from my friend who had bought her: “Sorry to bother you. We are having problems with Sweetie. We went to a show yesterday and she was trying to kick every horse and even kicked a lady.

    “Chloe was too nervous to ride her and she has taken at least half an hour to load. Managed to persuade Chloe to get on and do a small clear round at the end, which she really enjoyed. The pony just seems nervous all the time. I know she wasn’t like that with you so I wondered if the previous owner has any ideas?

    “Sorry to ask, just not sure what to do. Paul (my husband) just thinks we have bought a horrible horse but I think she is just not settled.”

    Continued below…

    Oh my Lord. The little Devil! Sweetie was trying it on make no mistake, but how to convince my friend who was in full panic mode, not to mention her daughter who was timid in the first place and was clearly being taken advantage of by a smart and canny little pony who was having a wonderful time ruling the roost?

    I knew I had sold them a rock-solid little pony who had never given us a moment’s bother, but how to convince them of that?

    My reply was a long one, the nub of which went along the lines of … she’s testing you and you are just starting on the “getting to know you” process with her. It’s very early days and she needs to be shown she is not in charge. You will need to earn her respect through kindness, understanding and above all, authority.

    I reflected on my advice and was struck by the irony of it in the light of our own experiences with Munch who had been with us around six weeks or so and who was also making his presence known in some unexpected and rather undesirable ways.

    Now, don’t misunderstand me, Munch was settling in well, and we were very pleased with our purchase, on the whole. But, our first Pony Club showjumping training session had revealed a disagreeable habit towards post-jump bucking.

    The first time we noticed it, it was such a small hump we ignored it. But as the session went on, the bucking became more of a regular fixture two or three strides after the fence.

    I had been very careful to ask the previous owner whether the pony bucked and had been advised that the only time she had ever seen him do so was when he had been held back by the rider whilst his friends hacked on ahead in order that they would have a good gallop to catch up. He certainly had never shown this trait when we were jumping him during our trial.

    My heart sank, as the instructor advised us to withdraw him from Pony Club group sessions for a while in favour of individual lessons away from the curious and disapproving glares of the assembled Pony Club mums.

    I felt the warm glow of Munch’s honeymoon period rapidly fading into a grey and murky mist, and considered that Sweetie hadn’t even been generous enough to give her new family the benefit of a honeymoon at all. Grateful for small mercies, then!

    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 (14 December 2015)

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