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Real-life Drama: Forced to leave my riding school

When Christina’s friend, Maddie, went away and left Christina in charge of her pony, it all started to go wrong...


I had been having riding lessons at my local riding school for about a year, and was becoming more and more confident. I had made a friend, Maddie, who had her own gorgeous roan pony called Bruno. I would borrow a school pony and we would go for long hacks or practise jumping. I helped Maddie with her stable duties and she would let me help with Bruno, like change his rugs or pick out his feet. It was so much fun and I wished that one day I would have my own pony to look after.

An opportunity

One day, after an after-school lesson, I saw Maddie bringing Bruno into his stable so I went to ask if she fancied going out for a hack at the weekend.

“Oh I’m sorry Christina, but I’m going away this weekend so I won’t be riding. Paula is going to look after Bruno for me.” She said, giving Bruno a pat.
I suddenly had an idea, I could look after Bruno! I had been helping Maddie with him for a while now so I knew him quite well, and it would be amazing to get the chance to ride him. I put my case to Maddie.
“I don’t know, Chris, you have never looked after a pony all by yourself before.” Maddie looked concerned.
I was confident I knew what I was doing, and I persuaded Maddie that it would be great for Bruno because he was used to me, and our instructor, Paula, would be busy teaching lessons all weekend so she wouldn’t be able to give Bruno much attention. I, on the other hand, would be available all weekend to pamper him!
“Okay,” Maddie finally agreed, “I’ll leave you instructions of what to do
each day and only ride him in a lesson! Are you sure you can manage him?”
I convinced Maddie I was up to the job and promised her that Bruno would be in safe hands. I was so excited – I had a pony for the weekend!

A good start

I was so excited on Saturday morning I woke up two hours early and got ready to go and see Bruno. I even pestered my mum to hurry up eating her breakfast and drive me to the stables early!
When I got there, Bruno was covered in shavings where he had obviously been rolling in his stable – so cute! I gave him his breakfast (following the very detailed instructions Maddie had left about what to feed him), mucked out the stable and did the other stable chores. I then began giving Bruno a thorough groom ready to get him tacked up for our lesson at 11am. It was heaven!


Things go wrong

I had to ask the yard groom, Helena, to help me tack Bruno up because he wore a martingale, and I had never ridden a pony with a martingale before so I wasn’t sure how it fitted.
After the martingale fiasco, I was up and on Bruno in time for the lesson. However, my excitement quickly turned to nerves as Bruno started to misbehave. He wouldn’t stand still in the yard while the other riders mounted, and he kept backing into one of the school ponies.
It went from bad to worse. As soon as we got into the arena, Bruno wouldn’t walk. He jog-trotted sideways all the way around the outside, and kept running into the back of the other ponies. He wasn’t at all like the riding school ponies, he was so much stronger and livelier.
Paula suggested I come to the front of the ride to give the others some space, but it just made Bruno worse. When I asked for trot, he did an enormous buck and bombed off around the school with me just about hanging on, and then ploughed into one of the other horses and hurt the rider’s leg. I mumbled an apology and tried to hold back my tears of embarrassment and shock at what
was happening.

“Christina, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to leave the lesson, you’re disrupting the others,” Paula said, sternly.
I was mortified. I could see everyone else in the lesson staring at me. Some of them shook their heads and tutted, they all knew I couldn’t manage Bruno. I could feel the tears spill down my face.
I took Bruno back to his stable but I couldn’t manage to untack him because he was too strong for me to handle. Helena came to help me.
“Look Christina, you tried looking after Bruno, but I think it’s best if Paula and I take over, we don’t want any more dangerous situations.”

Can’t go back

I couldn’t face going back the next day, I was so embarrassed. I had dreaded phoning Maddie to tell her what had happened, but one of the other girls from the lesson had already told her before I could. She was so angry with me and said she should never have trusted me with Bruno as she knew I wasn’t experienced enough or a good enough rider to cope with him. I was so sure I’d be able to ride Bruno.
lt was all too much and I decided not to go back to that riding school. I couldn’t face Maddie again and I knew I would never live the experience down. Now I’m looking for a new riding school – but I won’t over-horse myself again!


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