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
You may not believe this my dear blog readers, but yes, the next pony to come along was going to be our 13th viewing.
I completely understand if you are rolling your eyes, wondering what sort of amateur tyrekickers we must be. I forgive you for sighing and tutting, especially if you have ever tried to sell a pony. But I hope if you have read any of my previous dozen blogs, you will get some sort of an understanding of the journey we had been on, and if you can honestly say that you would have bought any one of those ponies that we rejected, I’ll be happy to pass on their contact details and extend my “very best of luck” good wishes to you!
However, I am also pleased to advise you that unbeknown to us, the end was in sight, albeit, as you might expect, not without its challenges!
I had just arranged to go and see yet another pony when the advert for a “genuine confidence-giving Pony Club pony” popped up.
Extremely safe and sensible, could be ridden by anyone including novices, always picked for teams and represented his PC at dressage, horse trials, and showjumping — sounded ideal. Not only that, he was a cross-country machine stopping at nothing, had hunted, was easy to do in every way and was an all-round good egg!
I called the owner, and the more we chatted, the more convinced I was that he was definitely worth a punt. Needless to say, she had been inundated with calls and had a list of people coming to see him that weekend, including some aristocrat who was sending her entourage.
Time to employ begging/sympathy/persuasion (feel free to pick your own adjective!) tactics, and half an hour later she called back saying that as I sounded so keen, we could come the next night. Score!
In the meantime, the requested videos were pinged through (see, I was learning!) and we watched him showjump and go cross-country — he looked good.
The next evening as we cruised into leafy Surrey, we pondered over whether 13 was going to be a lucky or unlucky number for us, but one look at the pony and we were cautiously optimistic.
In the arena he was calm, kind, steady and honest. Daughter liked him. He had an incredibly scopey jump and boxes were getting ticked fast and furiously. An hour after we arrived, in my mind, he was sold. Eureka!
I asked if we could take him for a quick walk on the road to see him in traffic. No problem. He ambled calmly to the road, stepped onto the tarmac and something behind him caught his eye in the dusky evening light. He scooted forward, and transformed – explosive snorting and intermittent jogging. Had daughter not been on board, I would have actually been rather impressed at the figure he cut, beautifully on the bit, a perfect outline, a little powerhouse of anxious energy – but of course, this opened up a whole can of worming doubts in my mind. What happened to the calm steady neddy we tried earlier?
I explained my bewilderment to the owner, who, despite employing the time honoured phrase: “He’s never done that before…”, wholeheartedly understood my position – we left to think about it.
We did think about it… a lot. There was much to commend this pony for, but on the other hand, hacking was a big part of what we wanted to do, and if he was not comfortable hacking alone, or was spooky or otherwise, this wasn’t going to work for us.
Conversations with a self-confessed “mortified at his behaviour” owner resulted in us agreeing to give him a second chance and it was arranged we would take him on a hack at the weekend. So, we pitched up again, and set off with myself and the owner’s 12-year-old daughter on foot, following my daughter astride.
The pony was much more relaxed this time, and despite the odd whinny, he never put a foot wrong. This was good. Next, the owner gave us the telephone number of their Pony Club DC, who verified he was “rock solid” and exactly what the owner had said he was, and indeed confirmed my perception of him. So, I organised a vetting, which the pony passed with flying colours,
“You’re going to have a lot of fun with that pony,” said the vet. “He’s one of the nicest ones I’ve seen in a while. In fact, I much prefer him to the one they have bought to replace him!” he revealed. A comforting vote of confidence from a third party. It was decision time. Time to take the plunge. One phone call and a transfer of money, and unbelievably we finally owned a pony.
The mammoth hunt was over at last. We could now sit back and enjoy the ride, literally. But, as we were soon to learn, it’s never quite like that with ponies, is it?!