The (painful) diary of the hunt for the perfect pony: ‘We were in for a shock’

  • 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

    There are certain people in the horsey world who you expect to know a thing or two about horses and ponies. Surely, it’s not unreasonable to think that the Top Dog in a neighbouring Pony Club might be one of those. Hah! Fool!

    It was New Year’s Eve. I was lamenting to a friend about the charade that our search for a pony was becoming.

    We clicked on the Pony Club website, only to find a new advert had been placed just an hour before for a 13.1hh Welsh Section B competition pony. The photo showed him capably popping an impressive sized fence.

    The blurb sounded great, and I picked up the phone. Top Dog was lovely to chat to and perfectly described exactly what I had been looking for.

    Continued below…

    Pip knew his job; he had brought the granddaughter on from a nervous rider to one competing at area level. He had a string of competition successes under his belt and seeing as he belonged to the Top Dog, had had a wide exposure to all Pony Club activities.

    We were the first to see him. Peeping his head out of his stable, my first impressions were not favourable. This was compounded by his obvious lack of manners when tied up.

    So Top Dog decided in her wisdom that the best thing to settle him would be to give him a quick feed whilst she tacked him up! Yes, really!

    I asked about laminitis. “No never!” she exclaimed. “He does far too much running round in his field to get it.” Okaaaayy. Now I was really starting to wonder about her knowledge as we proceeded into a frozen arena.

    It was almost impossible to try the pony as the ground was like a rock with one side of it waterlogged and frozen up. Despite this, Pip proved to be the perfect gentleman. The longer Daughter sat on him, the more she liked him.

    Despite my reservations that he was too small, I figured that if we kept him for 12 months he would teach her a few things and we would have to move him on.

    As the nights were dark, the next time we could try him again was the following weekend, so we agreed to come back. We were in for a shock.

    In the space of a week, Pip had turned into a different pony. Gone was the disciplined, steady neddy Daughter liked so much. In his place was a feisty, turn and burn merchant who seemed ready to fly never mind jump the fences.

    He was proving to be such a handful that startled Daughter got off and the owner’s granddaughter got on to show us how to handle him.

    “What’s wrong with him?” she shouted after a couple of minutes of trying to control him. “He’s never usually like this.” Top Dog looked puzzled.

    “Perhaps it’s the haylage I’ve been feeding him on – I just changed it two days ago, d’you think it would affect him?” she questioned. OMG. Give me strength.

    We left befuddled, and agreed to call Top Dog with our decision. Something just didn’t feel right to me – could someone who supposedly knew about horses really make such schoolboy errors? I rang and politely declined the pony.

    “That’s all right she said, I’ll readvertise him, but if you don’t mind, I’ll put in the ad that he’s back on the market due to timewasters – it’ll help sell him better!” Thank you very much. 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 this time next week (Monday 28 September)

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