The (painful) hunt for the perfect pony: ‘Desperation is not a good thing’

  • 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

    Desperation is not a good thing. Look it up. The dictionary describes it as foolhardiness, impetuosity, boldness, hopelessness, recklessness… you get the idea… I won’t go on!

    Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to be desperate, but looking back now, I must have been to break not one but a whole handful of my golden rules in our search for a pony. It began with not travelling more than a 100-mile radius of home.

    So, how about 300 miles? And, how about taking Daughter out of school to go? What about £2,000 over budget? Mad? Check. Desperate? Most likely. Worth it? What do you think?

    It all began when a friend sent me a photo of the most glamorous pony. This was a dreamy creature whose poise and elegance were uncharted.

    His deep mahogany coat glistened, his presence was regal. An eight-year-old Connemara, Moose had competed in working hunter at county level and had done three seasons with his owner as amateur whip.

    He had been out with our local hunt in the past and could be vouched for with outstanding manners, a gutsy approach to the field and a calm attitude to his work. He belonged to a young man who held the pony in high esteem, as did his mother who waxed lyrical about his prowess on the hunting field.

    I questioned her in some length about his suitability as a Pony Club pony, and was advised that he would adapt extremely well. There was only one way to find out.

    Continued below…

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    ‘A real Northern charmer’

    One grey March Monday morning, Daughter and I lumped into the car and set off north just short of the border. At the appointed hour we arrived, and Moose was led off the back of a lorry.

    He was indeed very handsome. He stood politely and quietly while he was tacked up, and the 16-year-old young man who owned him was a real Northern charmer!

    He hopped on and took Moose into the arena. The pair clearly had a great rapport going and the pony responded well to his forward going approach. It was when I asked to see him jump that I kicked myself for not asking to see some videos beforehand. A small fence was erected and Moose came at it like it was a hedge.

    “In-deep” was an exaggeration, a head up rush at the fence was followed by what can only be described as a cat leap, hollowing his back mid air and thudding down on the other side. I swallowed. There was no way my novice 12-year-old daughter was going to manage this.

    I instantly realised that we had just travelled 300 miles for no reason at all. To her credit, Daughter did get on and rode him very well, urged on by the owner to “Kick on!”

    ‘Alarm bells’

    The owners loved Moose and were impressed with the way Daughter rode him, so much so that they started talking about dropping the price if we wanted him… hmmm, alarm bells. Flattery is great, but regrettably I was becoming cynical.

    We took Moose out for a “hack” up the road. It was pouring with rain and there was plenty of traffic, but he was as good as gold. Daughter was enamoured by his calm personality but I was busy sending videos to our trainer trying to get a second opinion on how much work his jumping style was going to need to put “right”. The response was not favourable.

    On our way home, Daughter and I had plenty of time to weigh up the pros and cons of owning Moose. By the end of our journey, we had concluded that the amount of time and money we would need to spend re-training him to be a Pony Club pony rather than a hunter was going to be prohibitive. Reluctantly, we agreed we would have to decline Moose and “kick on” to the next candidate. Aaarrrgghhhh!!

    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 (19 October)

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