I think everyone remembers their first pony, be that one they owned, loaned or rode at their local riding school.
For me, my first pony was an adorable 11.1hh Welsh section A mare named Larch. She was the first pony I ever rode when I was 6, and I shared her for a fair few years. Of course, she had the classic ‘small pony syndrome’, diving into the middle of the arena at every opportunity and was ever so stubborn! But I was a little girl smitten with a cheeky little grey.
Even though plenty of other little girls rode her, when I was with her she felt like she was just mine. I longed for every Saturday morning so I could get to the stables to see her. I would be so excited to feed, groom and tack her up, however everything was a challenge with her. I was a beginner and she obviously knew. She would turn her bum to you in the stable, bite you as you were tacking her up and loved to chuck in a buck when you were least expecting it. I would have someone lead me around the arena, but she would try to bite whatever poor girl had to do it. So I would often end up hacking out in the local woods with her instead, as we were both more confident out there. I just loved walking through the woodland, exploring little paths and singing my favourite songs to her. I was in my own little bubble.
I remember my first fall off her. We were on a group ride in the woods and some girls wanted a canter. A few of us just wanted to trot but of course, we weren’t able to hold back the ponies while the others were cantering. Larch quickly broke into canter and all was fine, until we approached a puddle. Being scared of water, she spooked and jumped to one side, and me being a novice I flew right out the side door (thankfully avoiding the puddle). I had plenty more falls off of the little madam, but I always got straight back on.
Not only did she teach me how to deal with stubborn mares, sit bucks and jump puddles, she introduced me to a whole new world. None of my family are horsey and it was by pure chance I went for that first riding lesson with a friend. Yes the horsey world is a very bitchy place, but at the same time it’s the world that I loved as I was growing up. The silly dramas, bitchiness and injuries that you deal with in day to day life mean that us horsey girls quickly grow a very thick skin.
I think it is inevitable that your first pony teaches you a hell of a lot, and it was definitely true for me. This little madam introduced me to what was going to become a lifelong (expensive) hobby and I’m sure my parents didn’t think I would keep it up, considering i’d given up every other hobby that I tried, but i’d got the bug for sure.
I was devastated the day I had to stop riding her, but I stayed at the same riding school for years and years, so I still grew up with her. Plus, it turns out I never outgrew my love for grey native ponies…