The (painful) diary of the hunt for the perfect pony: ‘He’s never done that before’

  • 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 her turbulent journey to find the ideal 13.2-14.2hh confidence-giver for her daughter

    Our hunt for the perfect pony began with an air of sanguine, cheerful optimism. Our super 12hh loan pony had been sadly outgrown and the time had come to move on to number two. Daughter wanted to showjump and needed a safe, sensible sort to look after her and show her the ropes.

    I admit the thought of browsing pony adverts left me cold and I took comfort in the pony-buying adage that “ the right one will come to you” and having put a few feelers out, one day, to my delight, I got a call.

    “I’ve found your pony,” a horsey friend of mine declared. My ears pricked up. What could be better than the “word of mouth” pony?

    “He’s done everything, totally bombproof, he’s just what you’re looking for… he’s 21,” she passed quickly over this little fact and moved onto the fact that he wouldn’t be more than £500.

    Hmmm, I hesitated at the age, the last thing I wanted was to be landed with an aged pony that no one wanted to buy when the inevitable happened and Daughter was ready to move on again. Nevertheless, the draw of the recommendation was heady, the price was good and in the spirit of open-mindedness we set off.

    Continued below…

    ‘He’s an absolute darling’

    On arrival, we were met at the gate by a Plummy Mummy in a Matalan jumper who proceeded to haul a muddy grey pony out of the field and presented us with Spirit.

    “He’s an absolute darling,” she enthused. “Been everywhere, done everything, we’re only selling ‘cos Horatio wants to do more showjumping and 2’9” is really his limit.” Alarm bell number one.

    Plummy Mummy suggested we tack him up and promptly disappeared off into one of the stables. Wondering whether to bother tackling the matted mass that was his mane, we pondered over the pile of numnahs and pads that sat beneath a somewhat battered saddle.

    “Yes, we have some problems with finding a saddle that fits him,” she trilled behind us, and began wrestling with said saddle to find a perch atop his back. Alarm bell number two.

    “Now, best you take him out for a hack,” Plummy continued, “ so I’ve tacked up Midnight for your Mum…” Gigantic alarm bell number three!

    Midnight, a 17.2 Cleveland Bay was dragged away from his haynet, blinking in the sunlight, unaware of the consternation his appearance was creating with his stable mate’s potential purchaser.

    It had been five years since I hung up my own spurs, but the prospect of sending Daughter out hacking on an unknown pony kickstarted the in-built motherly protection gland and against my better judgement I found myself clambering aboard. We set off through the forest. I looked behind. Daughter was sporting a big smile. I was rather enjoying myself too, despite my agonising self-limiting beliefs, and 45 minutes later we returned. It was looking good for Spirit.

    ‘I have a friend who’s desperate for him’

    “Would you like to jump him?” Plummy enquired. Daughter nodded, rather gamely I thought.

    As we proceeded into the “jump field” that doubled as Spirit’s grazing territory, Plummy revealed that she was looking for around £1,250 for the pony – I jolted. “Really…?” I murmured. “Oh yes, I have a friend who’s desperate for him,” she slipped in, just in case I thought I was paying over the odds for a pensioner pony.

    Daughter popped a couple of fences. Things were going well. She decided to try the double.

    One stride out, Spirit dropped his shoulder in a sneaky “see how you like this” action. Daughter was unceremoniously dumped on the wings. Plummy let out a horrified shriek. “Oh,” she wailed, running towards Daughter, “he’s never done that before.”

    Little did I know this was to become the catchphrase for the whole pony buying experience. Game over. We made our excuses. As we made our way back to the car, Plummy called across: “Would you be interested in a kitten?” Next!

    Don’t miss the next installment of Kate Flynn’s hunt for the perfect pony on the Horse & Hound website this time next week (Monday 31 August)

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