When I was a kid not one Christmas went past without me begging my parents to be given a pony. I envisaged keeping it in the shed in the back garden and riding it to school every day, lashing the reins around the school gates, cowboy style. I was obsessed. When we would go on those boring family car journeys I would sit in the back seat and gaze out of the window, imagining that my pony was galloping alongside the car, keeping up with us on the M1..
I first started to ride when I was four; the first pony I ever rode was called Robin. From that day forward I was hooked. I would go to my local riding school every weekend and just hand around all day, helping out and trying to spend as much time as possible on or near a pony. I was lucky that I would get also get a weekly riding lesson, and I learnt to ride quite well. All the time I didn’t forget my dream of having my own pony: I just kept hoping, and learning and turning up to volunteer. When I wasn’t at the stables I was thinking about the stables and reading Enid Blyton and K.M. Peyton books about ponies under the blankets in bed with a torch as a reading light.
It was when I was eleven that I learnt that if you dream about something so much then it can happen. I can remember the moment as if it were yesterday: we took on the ‘loan’ of a pony, Frosty. That meant that we contributed to his keep and that I would look after him every weekend. I was literally in heaven; it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Looking after Frosty meant I had responsibilities. He needed to be fed twice a day, he had to be exercised and groomed, and his stable needed cleaning. I loved it. And I made friends who I still have to this day. Of course this also meant the cessation of any sort of pocket money so in order to have money I also had to have a job, so I began to work as a papergirl: up at 5.30am, off to the paper shop for 6am, deliver the papers, go to the stables, muck out and feed, go to school, return to the stables, groom, exercise, muck out, feed, go home, do homework, eat dinner, sleep and repeat. There wasn’t much time for me to get into any sort of trouble with that timetable!
So it’s interesting to see how La Gidg will develop: will she be pony mad, or will she favour something else entirely (currently mermaids and synchronised swimming are her bag)? Oliver took her along to the Santa Ponsa Riding Club last weekend to check it out. They were having an open day which turned out to be extremely popular: it was full of excited children and their parents. Well, a word of advice to the parents: spending time with horses is a wonderful way for a child to grow up, it teaches you about patience, sensitivity, responsibility and teamwork. I highly recommend it.