The trials and tribulations of being mum to a pony rider

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Belle Browbande

This weekend is our busiest showtime yet, with Combined Training (dressage and showjumping) at our competition centre Blade’s Hill on Sunday and our second country horse show at Cornfields the day after. I’m really hoping the memories of this one will blot out the shadows of Sudeley... Showrings, hotdogs, candyfloss and ponies…trophies and rosettes! Clyde is entering two dressage classes (in a field??), only one jumping class because he will have done two testing ones the day before, and…. our Veteran Showing Class.

I’m getting nervous about this! We have only the dimmest idea of the procedure of a showing class (we learned it all from Jill, who favoured a 'very simple show - a few half passes and a little piaffe, nothing flashy') and, let’s face it, their looks are against them. Clyde’s nose is peeling – his NAF pony-sunscreen didn’t do the job (I suspected it wouldn’t when I saw it had only the sort of ingredients Save-the-Planet Non-Pony-Sis would approve of), his white socks won’t stay white as he will mindlessly blunder his big feet into every mudpuddle going on the way to the showring, and as for Pony-girl, where do I start! The showshirt always did look like a cheap school aertex and came home from the last show looking as if it had been used to wipe out the dung bucket, her hat-silk flew off at a moment of distress on a hack, never to be found, so the German Army Helmet will be atop her head in the ring, and if the judge gives her a 2-minute slot to enumerate Clyde’s good points, I fear she will dry up after 10 seconds: “He’s very…… he’s..….well, he’s.... ” “Next!”

The only bright note is the new show browband, which has arrived and is truly gorgeous, cherrypink velvet and navy satin on leather, made to order in France for the astonishing cost of £6.90 and sent in two days. (This must be my best eBay bargain yet!) But will it be enough to woo the judge? Will she look beyond his sturdy donkey ears to see his champion's soul inside?

But…. here’s a picture from the cover of Blade's Hill's Autumn schedule …..

Darkest Braveheart, champion of PG’s heart

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Clyde will be entering his first Showing Class (Veterans) at Cornfields Horse Show in a week’s time, a new venture for pony-girl and me, though not for Clyde, whose previous owner told us she had shown him several times and ‘he was very bored, I'm afraid.’ (translates: Never Placed.) Still, we thought it would a fun thing to do and we think Clyde is very handsome with his endearingly large ears, knobbly knees, impressive teeth, etc so any judge would be frankly mad not to give him Best in Show at once!

Now, obviously Clyde must be looking his very very best for a showing class and I’ve ordered a hand-made velvet and satin browband with little rosettes at each side in our team colours of Dark Pink and Navy. Such browbands retail in normal shops for vast amounts of money, so I hope the bargain Ebay price of £6 for mine doesn’t mean it arrives in a matchbox marked "For Your 'My Little Pony’". He will also have to be scrubbed, polished and shining to the last possible inch, and – this is the thing - there are 10 and a half inches of Clyde which have never had a scrub-up.

Pony-girl and I would prefer not to have to think about this part of Clyde, but among the boxes of little handsized wipes that Santa brought, a full range from BuffaHoofs to MuzzleMoppas, came a set of SheathSwashers, so far unused. I am very ready to be swayed by articles which advise leaving the male organ well alone, very, very ready, but we want to do the best by our boy and we can’t help but notice in the Livery Tackroom that the levels in every other horse’s bottle of Sheath Cleanser are slowly but steadily going down.

Clyde is an aloof sort of pony, arrogant even, and I don’t fancy taking liberties with his dignity, not to mention that the organ in question dangles very close to those big powerful back legs which, we suspect, caused the large dent poor Tilly his fieldmate is currently sporting between the eyes, possibly when she tried to get a dander at his sheath, who knows. I'm brave enough to pick off any piece of straw I spot clinging there, but it's a nervewracking operation which involves me stealthily creeping along Clyde’s side while PG waves a mint in front of his nose. One quick darting snatch under the belly and the straw is in my hand: but a long, twitching shudder ripples along Clyde’s flank and he slowly turns his head to look at me, a deeply thoughtful look which has me leaping quickly to one side.

So I’m not looking forward to sheathscrub day and feel that timing it will be tricky since its appearances are rare and apparently random: without warning a sort of flap seems to open like an aircraft wheelbay, and slowly and silently the organ descends, on and on downwards to its full, impressive length. It stays out to get the air awhile, swinging gently from side to side, then the same eerily silent hydraulics cause it to start the ascent again until it vanishes, flap slams shut, end of viewing time.

No rush to tackle the task however, as before Cornfields Show there’s much to pack in: Combined Training at Blade’s Hill next weekend, showjumping last weekend, Dressage tomorrow and Pony Camp next week. Clyde is lean and fit and gleaming with good health, Pony-girl is happy, busy, full of horsy plans - what a summer this has been: the summer of their lives…...

Please change any bookmarks or links to http://www.pony-mum.net/

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Thanks to my friend Panikos, Diary of a Pony-mum now has its own domain and anyone who uses a shortcut to get there needs to change it to:


The old one will continue to work for a while longer.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Pony Camp Parade

Weary of the daily warfare that passes for mealtimes in the Merry household, I reached breaking point yesterday and raised my voice above the constant rat-a-tat of bickering: “That’s IT! we have a new rule! If you can’t say anything nice to someone, say nothing at all!” upon which a deadly silence descended on the table and no-one spoke a word for hours. Progress!

There are no boys who ride regularly at our stables, if you discount the 6 year olds brought weekly to the Boys’ Lesson by bossy, mannish mothers who exhort them to “Ride! RIDE, Rupert!” as their reluctant heirs cling to the pony’s neck, whingeing piteously (this is strange, since many top eventers are male, but there is a distinct dearth of eager boy-riders at NagsR’Us between the ages of 8-18.) Neither are there many adult males, except the odd meek husband who trails around with a barrow as his leather-booted wife barks orders to him over her shoulder. Oh, and Hopeless Hugo of course, whom we mention not. Les Femmes at NagsR’Us tend to be cliquey and Pony-Girl is not popular, confident or thin-skinned enough to be absorbed in, or muscle her way in with persistence and bravado - too old for the young set and too young for the old. The young are like any young girls anywhere: much feverish plotting in corners about who is to be allowed to hack out with them and who is not: ”There’s no way Poppy’s coming with us, not after what she said about me to Henrietta!” The adults are similar though rather more cunning: “I do not think that Margaret’s Petronella is entirely suitable as a hacking companion for us - lovely lovely horse that she is, she does get so very excitable, so let us hack out early and alone, Cecilia dear!”

So, Pony-girl remains at the stables alone riding Clyde in circles around the deserted menage as the happy hackers set off, and while this means that Clyde is easily the best-schooled pony at the stable with a stunning walk-to-canter transition like a sudden bullet rocketing out of a gun (only on the one leg, I forget which), it is rather sad. So I’m pleased that this week is Pony Camp at Nags’R’Us and she is getting the chance to hack out in small groups arranged by Pat, teach small riders to tack up and muck out, and prepare for the end of Camp competitions on Wednesday.

This is all lovely fun, and very Jill-and-her-Pony-like. What a glorious year PG is having and how harsh the winds of change will blow in two years time when work and men and mortgages replace the sunny NagsR’Us world of ponies, stirrups, camps and rosettes! I hope she knows it and is facing each new day of this Pony Year with a song on her lips and joy in her heart. But one never does.