The (painful) hunt for the perfect pony: ‘The pony was reliable — at knocking poles down’

  • 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

    A night out with friends. A bottle or two of wine. An internet connection. It’s all you need to find the perfect pony, don’t you know. Why didn’t I try this before?

    The search was so quick and easy. Painless, in fact. The combined effort of four fuzzy heads rather than one frazzled, daytime sober one made the whole process a doddle.

    It was generally agreed around the table that what we wanted was a comfortable step up from our current 12hh star. None of these high-powered competition ponies, just a steady neddy that will build confidence. I agreed. A mere five minute trawl on the web and lo and behold — here was The One.

    Amber, a Welsh section C bay mare, not too dissimilar to our own but bigger. Straightforward and reliable the ad said. The videos suggested it was never going to set the world on fire as it was depicted merrily trotting around an arena. But it looked calm and kind and to my, slightly sozzled mind, ideal.

    “Ring now, it could be yours by tomorrow, problem solved,” urged my friends. “Really?” I queried. No time like the present. I called and within minutes, I had an appointment lined up for the following morning. Cause for a celebration!

    Twelve hours and one sore head later, Daughter and I arrived at a yard bursting at the seams with horses. A giant barn housed a fleet of jostling youngsters, while many more grazed in the spring sunshine outside.

    Continued below…

    Evading capture

    The owner and a group of her friends had just arrived back from doing some showjumping — but not on Amber, who was one of a gang in an enormous field who found it highly entertaining to evade capture. Several minutes elapsed while the owner alternated between puffing on her cigarette and trying to sling a lead rope round the pony’s neck, much to the hilarity of her by-standing friends.

    Eventually submitting to being caught, Amber strolled in, and her rug was removed unveiling a hairy, pot-bellied pony with a clear dislike of being tacked up. She was obviously greatly miffed at being asked to do some work.

    “We have an indoor school across the road if you’d like to try her,” said the owner between puffs. En masse the group took it upon themselves to join us as we trooped into what can only be described as a cowshed with sand on the floor. Dark and poky, there was barely room to get a 15 metre circle on the go, which actually rather suited the lethargic pony as it struggled round with Daughter atop.

    In a gloomy corner, the assembled “friends” settled in for the show, lighting up their fags and gossiping amongst themselves. One managed to spring into life when it was suggested that a couple of jumps be set up.

    So dark was it, the orange end of her cigarette could be tracked making its way across the barn. It was hard to tell whether the pony’s lacklustre jumping ability should be put down to its porky physique, its listless lethargy or the fact it needed a torch to see the fences. For once the advert had been true to its word.

    The pony was reliable – at knocking poles down! I went home for an alka seltzer. 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 (2 November)

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