It's safe to say that most pony-mad-kids dream of having their own pony. I used to spend hours on end imaging in what my first pony would be called, what competitions I would enter and all the different sparkly bits of tack I would have! Well my Mum also had that dream, and after nearly fifty years, she finally made the decision to get her own horse and since then, I have never seen her happier…
Although Mum had ridden as a child, buying her own horse was a step into the unknown. No matter how much online advice you read, or how many experienced people you ask, making the decision to buy your first horse is a pretty daunting prospect. There are so many adverts out there for starters – a quick initial internet search brought up hundreds of possibilities, and we didn’t really know where to begin! Mum also quickly came to realise that price was a very limiting factor – although she had been saving for years, her budget wasn’t exactly huge, and her expectations about what her money could get her had been a little unrealistic. A genuine schoolmaster is worth their weight in gold!
Unfortunately, I was away at University, so Mum went to see the first horse she liked the look of accompanied by my Grannie. It was definitely a bit of a gamble as Mum had just found this advert somewhere online, and we didn’t know his sellers or much about his background. Also, the advert didn’t give much away, but Mum literally saw the photos of Teddy and fell in love! Yes, I know what you're thinking! Teddy was advertised as a 15hh chestnut gelding, who had done a little bit of dressage but not much else. It was definitely his lovable face and gentle temperament that won Mum over when she met him. I remember When Mum rang me on her way home from visiting him she sounded just like the ten-year-old pony-mad-girl that I used to be. She was over the moon, and felt certain she had found the right horse. Although certain people will tell you that you shouldn’t buy the first horse you see, Mum trusted her gut instinct and went with what felt right.
Within a few weeks, Teddy had arrived at the yard and Mum soon came to realise all the difficult decisions that come with getting a new horse: who would he go out in the field with? What would she feed him? What tack would suit him? Luckily Mum was surrounded by plenty of very experienced horse people who were able to help, but it certainly made us both realise just how much there is to think about when buying a horse. In fact, owning a horse is a life-style choice, and not only does it require a lot of thought and money but it also takes up hours of each day. All in all, it's not much different from having a child! Mum has had to adapt her life to accommodate Teddy – she now gets up at the crack of dawn each morning to feed him before she goes to work, and spends her entire weekends at the yard riding, mucking out and doing boring jobs like poo picking!
As well as having to sort out logistics, Mum also needed to work at forming that all important bond with Teddy. Although he is nine, he is still a bit of a big baby, and can be very nervous. He took a while to learn to trust Mum, but she was keen to build a strong relationship with him as soon as possible. As a result, she got him into a routine and did simple things like brushing him every day, and chatting away to him (anyone would have thought she’d lost the plot…) so that he got to know her voice. She also made sure she learnt where his scratchy ‘bit’ was (the star on his forehead) and carefully noted any little quirks he had to avoid mishaps . For instance, it soon became apparent that he was a bit of an escape artist and could barge out of his stable without warning, so Mum had to learn to deal with that by always making sure she shut the stable door properly behind her.
As I was away at University in the first few weeks of Mum getting Teddy, I didn’t really realise the impact he was having on her until I came home. My Mum is someone who has always struggled a bit with her emotions and can get very down at times, especially when I go back off to University leaving her in the house on her own. However, getting Teddy must be the best decision she’s ever made. I’ve never seen her so happy, so enthusiastic and so motivated – I feel replaced as the ‘favourite’ child...ha ha! Spending time with Teddy has helped to de-stress her and has also helped her make new friends. Riding and mucking out has given her something to do each day whilst I’ve been away; all very good reasons to get out of bed. Since I’ve been home, I’ve become equally besotted with this little horse – I’ve been begging to ride him every day, and feel like a pony mad girl all over again!
The future with Teddy looks so exciting – we have just started teaching him to jump, and he seems to love it. We are hoping to enter some little shows, but before that I will need to have a few lessons with him as there are definitely things we need to work on to build up a strong partnership.
Do you have a story of a new horse? I’d love to hear how you're getting on together and the impact they are having on your life…
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