Tiny rider and ‘cantankerous’ 12.2hh’s river-crossing skills caught on camera

  • A very young rider and her “cantankerous” 12.2hh mare showed exactly how it’s done as they took on a river so deep they had to swim.

    Vicky Perry “stuffed her crop in her jacket” to take this action shot of eight-year-old Ruby Doidge and Willow, out trail-hunting with the Lamerton on 9 February.

    Mum Vicki Dodge told H&H Ruby was bubbling over all evening with her achievement.

    “She took my ear off!” she said. “She was all ‘We went through this river, I was scared but Willow just took me and she was really good’. She absolutely lives for it.”

    Vicki said Ruby has had 15-year-old Dartmoor hill pony Willow for nearly two years.

    “She’s a cantankerous bag!” Vicki said. “She’s given Ruby real challenges; decking her and all sorts, but she’s made Ruby a good rider, and she loves hunting; she definitely knows her own mind, and hunting is her thing.”

    Ruby had her first experience following hounds last September, Vicki said, and it has “been her drug ever since”, going out with Vicky Perry and her son, as was the case on Wednesday.

    “I stayed at home that day when they did the river crossing; it wasn’t swollen but it meanders a bit and there are some deep bits,” Vicki said.

    “Ruby was a bit hesitant but the pony was just ‘I’m going through’. They had to swim at one point, and then they came back through later. As a parent, Ruby tackles things that I have to watch between my fingers; steep banks and things and people will ask how old she is and she says ‘Eight!’ She’s really up for it.”

    Vicki added that Ruby cleans her tack and pony before and after every meet — “I told her if she wants a pony, she has to look after it,” Vicki said — and she goes out whenever she can.

    “She just loves it,” Vicki said. “The master and field master are amazing with her. Once, she’d stayed out till the very end of the day and they let her ride at the front, in front of the hounds, on the way back to the lorry. That was the biggest reward ever, and a really good incentive to carry on.”

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