The (challenging) diary of owning a new pony: Who you gonna call? Bronk-Busters…

  • 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 hate waste. There’s nothing that focuses my mind more than waste (or mess for that matter but that’s an entirely different subject) and the thought of wasting £300 on Pony Club camp was grieving.

    Why would it be a waste, I hear you ask? Because frankly, there was no way I was sending Daughter away for a week with Munch to buck and bronk her around to his heart’s content.

    Now, I hear you all saying that camp could be the making of the partnership, and I couldn’t agree more, but honestly, for my own sanity not to mention Daughter’s safety, I needed to have some confidence that Daughter could cope with him, especially after the cross-country training spectacle where it was decided that Munch needed to be put in his place following an unimpressive display of ASBO-like willfulness by his Lordship.

    Since Munch had arrived with us, we had been having lessons with an instructor. It was his view that someone else really needed to get on board and sort out the issue, and at 6’2” he was just too big. So, a call was put into Chloe, a 21-year old experienced rider who was deemed a more suitable size for the pony, and who crucially was willing to give him the benefit of her experience.

    Continued below…

    ‘I love a goal’

    Now, I said I hate waste — true. But, I do love a goal! Several weeks before, I had optimistically paid the £300 for Munch’s place at camp. Now, with just six weeks till D-Day and no refunds available, our goal was to build Daughter’s confidence, break Munch of his undesirable habit with the help of our new pint-sized instructor and get the pair safely to and more importantly, from camp. Mission on!

    At our first meeting with Chloe, she turned up with her Mum, who was no doubt wondering what kind of freak we had brought for her precious daughter to ride. They watched my Daughter and Munch run through their paces over a few jumps, where needless to say, Munch was angelic.

    Confident that this was no monster, Chloe then popped on, and for the first time in several weeks, I could feel the relief draining through my body as I felt the psychological handover of the stress pass from me to this young lady who was helping to take on our problem.

    Cheery, smiling and positive, Chloe blew in a breath of fresh air as she knuckled down to mastering this pony. It wasn’t long before Munch gave her a little demonstration of his party piece following a jump, which was swiftly reprimanded much to his surprise and I must say, indignance.

    His eye rolled back towards the rider and you didn’t need to be a mind reader to guess what he was thinking – “Hmmm, this isn’t what normally happens!”

    Well, no, because so far we had given him the benefit of the doubt, concerned for his physical welfare in the past, not wanting to get after him in case he was in pain, rather than just recalcitrant.

    ‘We knew his little game’

    Now we knew his little game, his fun was set to be short-lived in the hands of Chloe who, following a half hour session, pulled up and declared that she could see no reason why Daughter and Munch couldn’t go to camp – I had thrown down the gauntlet, and, bless her, Chloe had picked it up and most definitely put it on.

    The benefit of having someone riding the pony who can share techniques and skills that work for that particular animal can’t be underestimated.

    Chloe quickly learnt exactly which buttons to press on Munch to get the desired effect, and through riding him herself rather than just standing on the ground watching and advising, she was able to guide Daughter in the best ways to ride him from her own experience.

    Daughter had to learn the reprimand technique for herself, which did not come naturally, but once she had gained Munch’s attention and most importantly respect, the balance of power began to shift from pony to rider. Through making use of our original instructor’s arena, showjumps and cross-country course which he had very generously offered to us, Daughter was soon much more confident, (as was I), and Munch’s antics were coming under control.

    Chloe’s Reform School had had the desired effect. Munch and Daughter were off to camp – hallelujah! Mission accomplished – I hoped…

    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 (11 January 2016)

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