The trials and tribulations of being mum to a pony rider

Visit our board

Saturday, November 26, 2005

From the Horse's Mouth

“Tils! Tils! Look at me rear end!”
“Why would I wanna look at that, Clyde?”
“See what it says!”
does it say?”
“It says Darkest Dangerous Braveheart, Amazing Superstar Champion Stallion!”
“It does not, Clyde.”
“Oh yes it do, Tils. So There.”

And so it does.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lap of Honour

It was one year ago to the day that we paid for Clyde and he became ours: I remember trooping en famille into his stable and looking unenthusiastically at our purchase. Clyde, shabbier than I’d hoped, had his nose stuck down into his pile of hay and barely glanced up. I think it's safe to say that none of us was impressed. “Reckon I got anuvver rider, Tils. Whaddya fink?” “You mark my words mah son, that one’ll never amount to much.” One aging, all-but-forgotten pony, a has-been; one nervous novice rider, a never-was. It didn’t look promising. So in some sense this year has been a rags to riches story, and even, dare I say it, a touch Jill-and-her-pony-like, wherein Jill buys a showjumper, dislikes him from the start – “He jumps like a rocking-horse and eats his buckets!” – but ends up winning the Under-16 Jumping at Chatton Show, Rapide leaping 4’6” without brushing a pole, and Jill modestly throwing in a few half-passes and the odd piaffe in her lap of honour. Though, unlike Jill, I’m still looking for that stable she handily unearthed at the bottom of her garden and the rich mentor “Come and practice anytime in my 600ft menage Jill, and take any saddle you like from my extensively-stocked tackroom, I am so rich I will never miss it!”

You see, before the jumping began on Sunday, Clyde’s Anniversary Day, I was waylaid by Mrs Blade who oh-so-casually said to me:
“What size, ahem, rug would Darkest Braveheart take, then?” For the umpteenth time I turned my head to look for this Darkest Braveheart and then remembered we were talking about our pony, Clyde, and then - realisation dawned: the prize for Blade’s Best Pony is …..a rug. Oh heaven - ! Oh joy - !

Sweaty-palmed, I stayed cool, very cool, as I equally casually replied: “Oh, haha, rug? 6’6, as it happens.”
She looked staggered. “Are you sure?”
“Oh yes, quite sure, we bought him quite a few lately what with his anti-fly rug and his extra cooler and – “ oh heck, that sounds like we’ve got too many to care, when really for our brave little Clyde to win, to actually win, a rug for being Best Pony would be the most exciting thing that ever happened to us! “Not that we’ve got many of course, and they’re all pretty old and – “
“And his size is definitely, hmmm, 6’6?”
“Oh yes,” I prattled, “Only the other day I ordered another one so I do know his exact size – well I know I just said they were all old, but this was just a cheap one – off eBay you know – and – well you can never have too many rugs can you – not that he has got many – hardly any in fact!”

She was definitely looking at me a bit oddly as she wrote down “6’6”’ and as I left her I was thinking maybe that hadn’t gone too well but ohhh! My heart was singing!.
Pony-girl could hardly decipher the excited words tumbling from my lips but when she took it in her eyes went wide and starry, her hand reaching down to pat the treasured one’s shaven neck: “Oh! Mummy! Is he really - ? Blade’s Best Pony 2005?”
“It looks like he might be,” I whispered, patting his soft ginger nose in awe, “Why else would she ask his rug size?”
PG recovered enough to ask “And what size did you ask for - ?”
“6’6” of course.”
Five foot six you mean?” she queried, and that’s when I realised I had made a little slip-up.
PG could hardly believe it – “You’ll have to go back and tell her! You’ll have to! Oh Mummy you are such an idiot!”
“Well how can I,” I snapped, aghast, “We were both pretending it was just a casual making-conversation type of question! I can hardly say, ‘Coo-ee, Mrs Blade, you know you were casually asking what size rug Clyde, I mean Darkest Braveheart, took? Well silly old me, I was a teeny bit out, well actually a whole foot out, not that it matters in the slightest since we were just having a very casual chat about rugs in general, haha, but just to put the record straight and all that..”

We both realised the impossibility of this, so now I have to live forever with the knowledge that our pony may have earned himself, by his own skill and courage, a Champion’s Rug, and it’s only idiot Pony-mum's fault that it’s cut for an elephant and will swamp him to the ground, just his ears and tail poking out as he staggers along in a sort of big tent to the floor.

It was time to jump then, and, this being a fairy-tale sort of day, Clyde jumped as if inspired, ridden by an equally inspired PG making him turn on a sixpence and spring from a standstill, gaining 2nd place in two classes on his time alone and 5th in the last, against a very strong field of over 30 determined riders young and old. For the first time he got to do a victory lap of honour – three times – cantering in fine style around the arena in a convoy of the Chosen Six, and Pony-girl was looking at the world through a sparkle of tears and love for the Best Pony of our hearts, 2005 and forever.

"Anuvver lap of honour - yeah yeah"

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.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mixed Fortunes

Another of my PCs has died, kaput, finis, shuffled off its mortal coil at three years old, hence the delay in updates. Another PC is on its way, but there is no reason to assume it wil last any longer than the last two. Panikos and I are designing a series of small tombstones with pc name, dates etc, to affix to our signatures as we seem to have the touch of certain doom.

But.. what's being going on in the pony-world, I hear you ask!

Recent results:

Combined Training Sunday 23 Oct:

Dressage – Prelim 10 - middling score in line with recent lacklustre performances
Jumping 75cm – went clear, finished 4th overall (green rosette)
Jumping 85cm, clear, finished 2nd overall (blue rosette)

Dressage only – Sunday 30 Oct

Prelim 12 – 68.5% - 5th place – big improvement (orange rosette)
Novice 21 -this was Clyde’s first Novice test, stepping up a level from Prelim, and he did surprisingly well – 62.5% from a harsh judge, and he would actually have been placed had Lucinda Trophy-Tophat not entered on two horses, which clearly should not be allowed, as it unfairly penalises non-rich people who are Making the Best of It with just one, mediocre mount.

Not that Clyde thinks he is in any way mediocre – not since the invitation to the Awards evening came in – yesssssssssss!!! Mr Blade handed it to Pony-girl personally and we were thrilled to see that they have been nominated for three awards:

Best Junior Rider
Best Pony
CrossCountry Champion

They might win none of these of course, as there are 6 nominees in each category, but just to be asked! To be there! What a thrill! To celebrate we rushed out and bought a big bag of Apple Treats, which look exactly like regurgitated owl pellets, in a nauseous shade of green. However, Clyde would kill for these, and sometimes nearly does - they have a terrible effect on his behaviour and after scarfing down a handful he always makes a savage lunge at the ponies on each side of his stall, for no reason at all except Haha, I got treats and you didn’t, I’m a bigger’n’smarter’n higher up the herd-sorta-pony than you!

Last Sunday we had a little incident on closing up the horsebox. Pony-girl is on duty inside the box at such times, hauling on Clyde’s silly nose to keep it out of the way of the slamming ramps as he tries repeatedly to poke it out to see what’s going on. I was levering up the side-door from the ground, panting, and could hear her issuing a stream of complaints inside, not unusual, so I ignored it - until the whinges within reached a frantically noisy pitch. “Oh whatever IS the matter!” I called in exasperation, and looked around the edge, only to see I had been slowly heaving up Pony-girl’s right leg along with the door. There she was with one thigh cranked up to shoulder-height, wobbling on her other foot. As I lowered the ramp, along with it came down the leg, its graceful descent marred by a loud creaking and groaning from PG’s hip socket – or the ramp hinges, and all the while Clyde looked on, frankly astonished at our antics.

It was all so silly we both collapsed into giggles and couldn’t wait to retell this tale to Reluctant-pony-dad when we got home, buffooning it as we acted it out - “and then her leg came down, slowly, majestically – ‘ and although we could hardly speak for laughing, at the end of our tale he had not cracked a smile.

“Was it,” he began slowly, “the side door…. or the rear door?"

I suppose you had to be there.

Clyde looks on, astonished