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‘I love them, even when I stink of their pee’: young riders’ school reports on their ponies

Young riders who have been unable to compete – or often even see their ponies – during lockdown have been paying tribute to them in writing.

Members of the Furness and District branch of the Pony Club were asked to write school reports for their ponies as one of a number of challenges set by Pony Club mum Rachel Cooper.

Rachel told H&H the branch currently has a relatively young membership, all of whom were very disappointed not to be able to start their season.

“For a lot of them, it’s also their grandparents who look after their ponies so they haven’t even been able to see them, so I wanted to do something to keep morale up.”

This started with videos on the branch Facebook group, followed by a series of competitions, the most recent of which was to write school reports for ponies.

“A lot of the mums have said they can’t get the kids to do their schoolwork, but it was unbelievable with this; they couldn’t stop them writing,” Rachel said.

Katie Thompson wrote of her pony Halliwell Starlight (aka Pudding 2020): “General behaviour: rush to registration and sometimes late for first class due to being quite vain making sure he’s looking handsome and turned out very well to attract the ladies.”

Abigail Thexton said of Lord Apache: “He loves to be scratched on his wither or top of his butt, we keep his mane and tail in plaits to try and keep it clean – he really needs to learn how to keep his white bits white!

“He’s a bit of a comedian all round; he throws his bucket over the stable door when he’s finished eating. We haven’t ridden in any classes at shows yet; when we do my mum will have chest pains!”

Tahlia Semple’s pony Sov has apparently been a “fantastic member of the class this year”, whose behaviour has greatly improved. But the same could not be said for the Price family’s two Shetlands, who could not be reported on as they have been expelled for bad behaviour.

Maria Guselli said her 10-year-old Bailey is “a willing horse who always tries his best”, but that this is not always what is required of him.

“Bailey has demonstrated great potential to be a dressage horse,” she wrote. “He has shown the ability to perform sensational pirouettes at the sight of a plastic bag in the hedge. He has mastered the turn on the haunches with extreme suppleness when faced with a road sign.

“The sight of seaweed on the beach inspires an unexpected flying change and a swift change of direction.

“Although there is room for improvement, to me he is A star.”

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Five-year-old Edee Huntingford said her Shetland Charlotte’s Magic Merlin “needs to concentrate on learning NOT to bite Grandma”, while Avah Brogden explained that she got her pony Willow when her “ratbag of a sister” had taken over her old pony.

“Willow loads well and in Mum’s words ‘she doesn’t fanny about, straight up the ramp like a pro’ when we go places for lessons.

“I’m not the best rider and I don’t get red ribbons but I try to do my best and I hope that one day I will have a red one on her.

“And as for my sister starting to ride and she has mastered her rising trot… aged three… it’s game on.

“I love my ponies even when I stink of their pee. And dad says he will sell them if I kiss boys.”

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