The trials and tribulations of being mum to a pony rider

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Eventful Challenge

Last Sunday was the Eventer Challenge at Blade’s Hill - the rain was pouring down, the sky a great dirty grey bucket tipping down torrents of water on us all day, and so we decided to leave Clyde in Horatio our horsebox while we went off to pay for our classes and check the boards. Clyde is outraged to be left inside when he knows full well we’ve arrived and a furious banging and neighing ensues, signalling to all and sundry that our box contains one mighty cross pony. But it’s time he got used to it as all the other horses seem to stand there contentedly enough and it’s for his own good, all that fuss about coming out and then he stands there in the rain with his head hanging low, the saddest, dampest, most mistreated object in the world ‘I’m a poor cold wet pony wiv water drippin’ off me nose!’ So off we went leaving him safely inside with the ramp down and the gate across: “Back in 5 minutes, Clyde!”

When we came back, we found the side gate opened and nudged securely into handrail position, the breastbar lying on the floor and Clyde heading determinedly down the ramp to freedom. This was very clever as even I have trouble unpinning the heavy breastbar and I see no reason why in future we shouldn’t impress everyone by standing back with arms folded and letting Clyde unload himself.
“Well done boy but what have I told you, now go back and get your saddle!”

Now, this Eventer Challenge was aptly named, for, being winter and the cross-country fields closed, I was expecting a course of ordinary jumps with a few bristles and a shabby plastic flower stuck on top, but instead it consisted of two separate rounds, the first showjumping, the second proper cross-country jumps set out in the arena, flowers, bushes, rolltop barrels, the full works. It was about half a mile long in total with an optimum time to compete one section. Since Pony-girl has no idea how to time a round this was kindly dumbed down for her as ‘just keep a rhythmic canter all the way round, dear.' There was a little surprise in the form of a Starting Gate – no-one knew how Clyde was going to react to that and when summoned for his turn he stood there impassively, thinking his pony-thoughts – hay… apples…bit clever escapin’ from the box weren’t I.. snoozetime soon? …hay.... as Mrs Blade counted him down - “5-4-3-2-1- ”

POW! Clyde exploded from the box as if he had been sneezed out, galloping full pelt down the long side of the arena and heading for what he thought must be the first jump. Pony-girl took a while to catch up and was just in time to collect her wits and turn him towards the real first jump, which he took in fine style and zoomed around l the rest without a stop. This was pretty fantastic going and he gained 2rd place in the 75cm class and 3nd in the 85 cm (I am sure I need not tell you who beat our team on style marks to get the top slots.) Nonetheless we were pretty pleased with this and wonder who it was taught Clyde to erupt into a racing gallop from a standstill on a count of 1, since when we bought him he was widely deemed to be a riding-school plod, but then again our unpromising shabby little chap has proved to be anything but, time and time again. We took our blue and yellow rosettes and our 18 points for the Blade’s League and prepared to leave in much triumph.

Now it is a rule of nature that whenever I’m backing out Horatio, to one side of me appears a nervous horse, tethered and rearing, and behind the box slowly strolls the family with the baby buggy. The Buggy Family are absolutely never seen at any other time, and have been planted on this Earth just to walk behind my horsebox when I’m in reverse gear with no rear vision. So there I was backing the van out between these twin hazards and coping with PG’s uncertain directions ‘”it’s clear! Come ON! – no wait!!! STOP!!!! Oh hang on, it’s ok…” when suddenly a total silence fell. I sat there, engine running, getting crosser and crosser: what was going on? Finally I poked my head angrily out of the window to see my navigator doubled up in laughter. The buggy family were staring silently at our box, from which cascaded torrents of something yellow and… copious. From every corner and every opening it was streaming out and flooding the carpark in long, saffron rivulets. The reason for Clyde’s unusually eager bolt up the loading ramp became clear: the moment the door slammed shut he was easing into wee position, groaning with relief and letting rip: thank gawd. Privacy at last!

As we chugged and lurched through the gears out of the carpark we left a little river behind us all the way. I passed the Buggy Mummy, who had one fastidious hand over baby’s nose. I expect it was pungent. We had certainly left our mark on Blade’s Hill today, but to this day Clyde lives in blissful ignorance and thinks he got away with it.


  • At 12:14 PM, Prize said…

    Oh, Clyde, you think I'm brave for chasing itty bitty cows? I would never jump over big fences! Sometimes my mom sets up jumps that are all the way up to my knee(!) and expects me to go over them. I kick them down first and then walk over them like a lady. Cows aren't nearly as hard. There was a young horse that was afraid of cows there but his person told him that the cows were more afraid of him than he was of them. He wasn't so sure of that but he repeated that to himself the whole time and did fine.


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