The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: ‘This was camping — but not as I knew it!’

  • 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...

    Anyone who has ever sent their child to camp will be familiar with the barrage of stresses and strains the whole concept brings with it.

    This was our first camp, and we were feeling our way round the rules and regulations, not to mention the lengthy “what to bring with you” lists that were studiously checked and rechecked by Daughter.

    I soon came to realise that this was a serious military operation and of course, I made some schoolgirl errors.

    I recall feeling very smug with myself at remembering to buy some new white shirts whilst touring the supermarket for the weekly shop, only to find that the short-sleeved variety I had chosen were “not on the list” — long-sleeved shirts were the requirement despite the heatwave we were experiencing.

    Rookie! Minor dramas were created around such issues as not having a copy of the Pony Club handbook — where could I get one of those from on the eve of camp? And, let’s not forget the copious kit naming challenge — everything from jackets to gloves, wheelbarrows to pooper-scoopers needed to be named.

    All this and we hadn’t even got as far as Munch and his wardrobe requirements. On the allotted day, fly spray to bandages and everything in between were stuffed unceremoniously into the car until we resembled one of those transcontinental trains with people and belongings pressed into every available nook and cranny.

    Continued below…

    ‘A nagging doubt…’

    We trundled off, I with a nagging doubt that something critical had been left behind but in the flurry of activity, I was unable to place it. No, the pony was definitely on board, as was Daughter — everything else could be resolved couldn’t it?

    Seemingly not… when you don’t take your pony’s passport and vaccination record with you. Rookie… again!

    Whilst everyone else was merrily installing their ponies into the temporary stables, setting up their campbeds and milling about socialising with old friends, Munch and Daughter were dumped without a shred of dignity in the middle of the field aboard an unhitched trailer whilst I, in full mad-woman mode, did an about-turn and screeched back home to fetch the life-saving piece of paper that was preventing our pony from setting so much as a hoof in camp!

    Whilst haring up the lanes, I encountered a type of out-of-body experience, an objective vision of my harassed self that should be accompanied by ‘70’s Benny Hill “chase” or “Carry On” type music. However, at the time, the humour of the event was lost on me — this mythical moment of getting to camp was the culmination of all the stresses of the last few weeks and I wasn’t about to let a little red tape and bureaucracy stop us now.

    Returning to camp in record time clutching the mandatory piece of paper, a relieved Daughter and I checked in and had a very pleasant surprise when we learned that Daughter’s ride was to be instructed by none other than Chloe, our “bronk-busting” trainer whose support and help had got us to camp in the first place. Result!

    We installed Munch into his stable. Immediately he kicked back the straw, and set about scoffing the grass beneath — this was his dream come true, a bed on a feast. The children’s camp was an impressive series of marquees split between boys and girls by age groups.

    Entering Daughter’s marquee we were greeted with an explosion of clothing, bedding, baggage and boots, not to mention a bevy of squealing, over excited teenagers in full flow. As we unfolded Daughter’s “bed” – a 10-year-old, rather narrow sunbed that had spent the last few years languishing in a barn, I was quickly reminded of our newbie status and despite our efforts, inadequate equipment. “Professional” camp beds and stacking drawers were de rigeur.

    One child had a proper IKEA bed complete with head and footboard, double duvets and a matching chest of drawers. I’m not joking. This was camping — but not as I knew it! As I pulled away leaving my pair to settle in, I wondered what the forthcoming week was going to bring.

    No mobile phones, no parents in the stable yard at any time, for any reason… this was going to go one of two ways. I was soon to find out!

    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 (18 January 2016)

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