The (painful) diary of the hunt for the perfect pony: ‘Give ’er a boot t’getter gooin’

  • Moving house and divorce might be deemed the most stressful lifetime events, but surely the hunt for the perfect pony is a close runner-up... Kate Flynn takes us on the next stage of her turbulent journey to find the ideal 13.2-14.2hh confidence-giver for her daughter

    Having spent several months on the search for a pony, I was beginning to get a fairly finely tuned idea of what we were looking for.

    By now, we had seen the flighty, the fun loving — read fizzy — the misunderstood, the misnamed and the misplaced.

    Trawling the internet was becoming a bad habit, and one that was also one of the most frustrating.

    But after yet another trawl, up popped Honey, a smart little New Forest pony who seemed to tick all the boxes.

    Cutting to the chase — Daughter and I rocked up to a dairy farm with two small ginger boys grinning at us at the gate.

    Honey was tied up outside her stable. She was a poppet. A kind eye, lovely conformation, friendly disposition. This was a great start. Tacked up and with a toothy, over-large carrot-topped lad on board we set out for the field.

    Continued below…

    ‘Huge tick in the box’

    As we walked out of the yard, a milk tanker had just arrived and proceeded to reverse towards where we were standing. Honey stood stock still whilst this relatively behemoth vehicle beeped and shunted its way towards her. Huge tick in the box!

    Out in the field, Honey was put through her paces — such as they were. It was quickly clear that the young lad was a “booter and hooter”, kicking hard, shouting and jumping up and down on her back as she made her way across the rutted field.

    I winced, but kept quiet. Best we get Daughter on board to save the pony from any further laddish riding. Gently squeezing forward … nothing happened.

    Several more polite requests were met with little response.

    “Give ’er a boot t’getter gooin’” yelled the Mum in a powerful Wolverhampton accent.

    Daughter moved off, but was having trouble staying on board — the close contact saddle was as slippery as a skidpan, and Honey was bewildered by the quiet riding style and off-centre rider. Wolves Mum came up with the idea of sticking a saddle cover on the saddle to limit the slippage – you may not be surprised to learn, it didn’t work…

    Loving the temperament, we really wanted this pony to be the right one, so we persevered and some jumps were set up. Daughter set to in the approach.

    ‘Daughter was exhausted’

    But try as she might, Honey would not strike into canter on either leg. Forty minutes later, Daughter was exhausted with the sheer effort of trying to make this pony go forward. She had managed to get it over some fences, each time knocking them down with a consistency that was quite remarkable.

    “Aw, she never normally knocks them down,” said Wolves Mum, whose desire for us to like the pony was palpable.

    As sweet as she was, Honey was never going to make the showjumper we had hoped for, and explaining this we politely made our departure.

    Back at home, the pony’s reluctance to go forward troubled me and against my better judgment, thinking of the lad’s exuberant riding style, I decided to ring the owner and ask whether she had ever had its back checked.

    “Nah, and I’ve got someone else coming tomorrow,” said Wolves Mum, unconcerned. I made some “good luck” type comments and put the phone down. It was no more than I expected, and I sincerely hoped Honey found a new home very soon. Next!

    Read all Kate Flynn’s accounts of her hunt for the perfect pony

    Don’t miss the next installment of Kate Flynn’s hunt for the perfect pony on the Horse & Hound website next week (26 October)

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