I couldn’t believe it when my mum agreed I could go on my first sponsored ride. It was going to be amazing, cantering around a huge country estate, soaring over cross-country fences with my best friends Lexie and Violet. We’d worked really hard to get the sponsorship money together and had managed to raise over £100!
An unexpected chaperone
We were scheduled to ride quite late in the day, so I spent the morning grooming Bumble and getting the trailer ready for him. Finally, we were on our way to the venue.
“Tegan, I forgot to tell you,” Mum said as we turned off the main road into a smaller country lane. “Violet’s mum, Cynthia, will be riding with you today.” I looked at her in disbelief. “What? Why?” I asked. “Well, we all talked about it and would feel much happier if you had an adult with you.” I just huffed in response – we didn’t need a babysitter.
I ignored Mum for the rest of the drive, furious with her that she’d only just told me. My anger did thaw slightly when we arrived, though, and Violet and Lexie sprinted towards me.
“I’m soooooo sorry,” Violet said, flinging her arms around my neck. “I didn’t know until this morning either.” I laughed and hugged her back. “It’s okay, I’m just annoyed that they don’t trust us on our own.” Lexie, always the voice of reason, chimed in. “It’s a 10 mile ride, I’m sure they’re just worried we might get lost or something.”
The girls helped me unload Bumble, before going back to their own trailers to get their ponies tacked up.
“Enjoy yourselves!” Mum called, waving as the four of us rode towards the starting point. “We will,” I said, and waved back. Then we were off, heading down a long, grassy track.
We’d been walking for about five minutes, when we got to a beautiful track. It was lined with trees and looked just like Winners’ Avenue at Burghley Horse Trials!
“This would be the perfect place for a gallop!” I squealed with excitement. “Ooooh, let’s go!” Lexie agreed with me. “Hang on a minute,” Cynthia scolded us. “Your ponies aren’t warmed up enough for a canter, let’s have a trot here instead.” Violet rolled her eyes at her mother, then shrugged and squeezed her pony, Misty, forward. Knowing I wasn’t going to change Cynthia’s mind, I followed and we trotted along what would’ve been the most amazing canter track I’d ever ridden on.
A jump too far
Although it definitely wasn’t as much fun as it would’ve been on our own, Cynthia did relax a little and we found a few great tracks to actually canter on. After a little while we came across the first jump on the route. It was a small log and all the ponies flew over it with ease.
“Good boy, Bumble!” I leant forward to scratch his favourite spot under his mane as we waited for Cynthia and her horse, Rabbit, to jump the fence. As we continued the jumps became a lot more varied and some even had a few options, all at different heights.
I started to get frustrated with Violet’s mum again as she’d only let us attempt the smallest fences, which were about 50cm.
We were about half-way round the ride when we came across three logs. The smallest one looked to be around 40cm, the middle fence 60cm, and the highest was about 80cm and quite wide.
“Okay everyone, I think we should do the one on the end. There’s still a long way to go and we don’t want the ponies to get too tired, do we?” Cynthia told us, before we’d even voiced an opinion. “Okay, I’ll go first,” I answered with a smile. I knew she meant we should jump the smallest log, but I was fed up with her telling us what we could and couldn’t do. So, purposely misunderstanding her, I aimed Bumble for the large log.
“No, Tegan, I meant the smaller one,” Cynthia called from my right, but I ignored her. I kept my focus on the huge fence in front of me, urging Bumble forward.
He took off and we were airborne, soaring over the fence and clearing it by miles. I was thrilled, but he over-jumped the log so much that I was thrown out of the saddle and landed with a thud on the ground. I was totally winded and could do nothing but lay completely still as I tried to catch my breath.
“TEGAN!” Three worried voices called my name. “Are you okay?” Lexie asked anxiously. I was still struggling to breathe and couldn’t reply. “Oh my gosh, I’ve killed Tegan!” came Cynthia’s panicked voice. “What am I going to tell her mum?” I didn’t want to worry Cynthia any further, and managed to slowly sit up. “I’m okay, really, I’m just a bit winded,” I panted. “Thank goodness! You gave us such a fright!” Cynthia exclaimed, getting off Rabbit to give me a hug. “Do you hurt anywhere?” I shook my head. “I promise I’m not hurt.” She stared at me intently. “Hmm, okay, Violet’s caught Bumble for you. We’ll get you back on board and continue, but you’ve got to promise me you won’t try anything so foolish again!” I quickly agreed and used the smallest log to remount Bumble.
A lesson learned
The rest of the ride passed pretty uneventfully. Bumble and I jumped a few more of the smallest fences, while Violet and Lexie tried some of the bigger ones. I felt really bad for what I’d done. Not only had I scared everyone, I could’ve really hurt myself or Bumble. It was super-lucky that he’d stopped without galloping all the way back to the trailer. Plus, I’d sort of proved our parents’ point that we weren’t responsible enough to complete the ride on our own.
When we arrived back at the lorry park, Cynthia rode straight over to Mum to tell her what’d happened. Mum was furious, and gave me a well-deserved telling off the entire journey home.
The next day I asked Mum to take me over to Violet’s house so I could properly apologise for my behaviour. I felt awful that I’d scared Cynthia the way I did. Thankfully, she accepted my apology and gave me a huge hug.
“It’s okay, Tegan,” she said kindly. “I know you didn’t mean to scare me. All I wanted was for you girls to have fun and enjoy your ride safely.” I nodded, knowing that I’d been the one who’d behaved badly.
We’re planning to go on another sponsored ride soon, and I’ve already asked Cynthia if she can come with us.