Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: Pony prices make me goggle *H&H Plus*

  • Tessa Waugh baulks at the going rate for 14.2hhs just as her children seem so happy on the ponies they are rapidly growing out of – and an exciting trip to Middlesbrough provides inspiration

    Both Mary and Alec are getting on well with their ponies at the moment, albeit in limited circumstances with no shows or competitions on the cards.

    I scrutinise them as they plod off for another ride around the farm, fully aware that it will not be long before they have grown out of Rusty and Sally.

    That is one of the annoying things about children and ponies: no sooner have they forged a bond with one, that you need to start looking for another. Alec will need a 14.2hh next year and I worry that bigger ponies seem to cost the same as horses, in some cases more. I spoke to a friend who has recently picked up a tried and tested 13.3hh for her daughter to grow into.

    “You need to look for something young that you can bring on or go for something in the older age range. Otherwise it’s a case of name your price,” she explained.

    “Four or five thousand?” I asked tentatively.

    “Someone was going off to look at one the other day that was 10k,” came the reply. I goggled.

    Adam and I were down in Middlesbrough yesterday looking at worktops for the new house – the one that we have been building for six years. Hazard the question, “Are you in yet?” and watch me squirm.

    Middlesbrough doesn’t feature in holiday brochures – it’s one of the country’s poorest towns with a reputation for cheap heroin that attracts addicts from all over the country.

    We surveyed the belching chimneys and poetically named Transporter Bridge, which was bombed in World War I and II and is now a magnet for bungee jumpers and people who like abseiling.

    I’m not sure that I would have appreciated a trip to this less than picturesque corner of Britain back in February, or relished the four-hour round trip to get there, but Covid-19 has changed all that.

    Cruising along the avenues of a new industrial estate, Adam and I were carrying on like a couple who had just landed in Disneyland. “Captain of industry”, remarked Adam, nodding at a shiny Bentley parked on a curb. I ignored the girl making hand gestures in the car behind us as we slowed down by a scrapyard to watch two men load a burnt-out car onto a trailer. Around the corner: “Look! Ponies!” I cried.

    There were several tethered ponies grazing the verges as we pulled to a halt by a new warehouse and they seemed to be well; there was shade, water, plenty of grass.

    Of course, however healthy they look, this isn’t an appropriate way to keep a horse, but while I was still reeling from the potential cost of a 14.2hh, I found myself envisaging Alec’s next pony. Perhaps a rescue centre should be my next port of call.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 9 July 2020