There are some conventions in the horse world that completely baffle me. One of them is the idea that if you go to view a horse and come away without buying it, you are deemed to be a ‘time waster’. Even my horsey friend in Wales who breeds and sells delightful Welsh ponies accuses people of this so-called misdemeanour.
When I spent the best part of last week looking at horses dotted around the country that I had lined up to view, I had no intention of wasting anyone’s time. Indeed, these native ponies had been carefully chosen precisely because they all possessed potential qualities suitable for my adventure.
The first horse I looked at was a Section A Dales pony. She was being shown at the West Midlands Dales Pony Society Show where I spent a very pleasant Sunday witnessing the characteristics of these ponies being put through their paces. Diana is a 14-year-old, 14.2 hh Dales, been there and done-it-all pony, totally unflappable. She was very handy in the ‘handy pony’, and excelled in the long reining class, coming away with a red ribbon. I loved her. However, her owner would only allow her to be loaned and after much consideration, I decided that I would find it heartbreaking to hand back a pony with whom I would have bonded with after sharing so much together. I was also unsure of the ‘loan’ situation having heard conflicting stories and felt uneasy about the legal aspects of taking on a loan.
Then I went to see Alice, a 14.2 hh Welsh Section D. She was utterly beautiful in an old-fashioned sort of way, but not forward-going enough for my purposes. She was brilliant when Tammie – who had never seen me on a horse before – kept jumping up and insisted on riding along with me in my arms. Not a brilliant combo when sitting on an unfamiliar horse about to be mown down by a heavy lorry lumbering along the narrow lane at the time. I thought she would make a very pretty driving pony.
Then there was the Fell pony with the perfect pedigree and impeccable manners, Tom, who was a 13.2 hh ball of fun. He was a dream to ride but I decided I was a little on the heavy side for him and therefore too much of a burden. I looked oversized on him. He will make a wonderful pony for some lucky person who wants a pony to do lots of fun things with.
Another Dales who turned out to be too green for my purposes. I would like to see him again in 5 years time when he has done a bit more.
I did get to try out his owner’s Western saddle tho.
Then last but not least, there was Tommy.
I left home with the purpose of finding a black horse and have returned having fallen in love with a white one. Tommy is a grey, 14.2 hh, 7-year-old Connemara gelding with dappled legs and a pretty head with a kind eye. He is a responsive ride and I felt completely comfortable on him and around him. In fact, he reminded me of our old thoroughbred in many ways. He knows where his feet are going and he is supple in his body. I felt this is a horse that would look after me as much as I would look after him. The bonding process has begun. Here he is being prodded and poked during the vetting process which he passed with flying colours as totally fit for my purpose.
So, I would just like to say a big thank you to all the people concerned for letting me try out their ponies. I hope you don’t feel I was wasting any of your time. Often having to travel large distances to view a pony is time-consuming and costly. Choosing the right pony that fits you and your needs inevitably involves a lot of hunting down. It is something that cannot be rushed either. If you don’t try the pony out or spend time with them, especially talking to the owner, how can you possibly make an informed decision? As I discovered, for me it boils down to a simple gut feeling. It is like people. We make friends with the people we like to spend time with. It is no different with horses. I would like to spend time with Tommy. I hope, in time, he too will come to enjoy the time we spend together. And for my pilgrimage, that will be a lot of time spent in each other’s company. So if that involves so-called ‘time wasted’ in order to find the pony I would like to spend quality time with, then I am guilty as charged. With no shame.