It was a warm summer’s day, shortly after my 11th birthday and I’d just gone into the local shop after a long riding lesson. While Mum picked up some ice creams, I had a look at the notice board and was really excited to see that someone was advertising several ponies for share! Shaking with excitement I called Mum over to have a look, and she agreed that it sounded perfect. We noted down the number and a few days later we were off to have a look.
At the time, I’d been riding for about a year, but we couldn’t afford my own pony, so as we pulled into the yard I knew this could be my only chance to experience the joy of having a pony.
Sarah, the lady who owned the ponies, greeted me warmly, and after talking through some formalities with Mum, I was allowed to try out some of the ponies.
I didn’t click with the first couple of ponies I rode. However, the next pony I tried was the one I fell in love with – a gorgeous grey pony called Nemo. He didn’t have any airs and graces, just a nice steady manner, a lovely forward-going canter, and a bit of a cheeky side. Sure, he wouldn’t always stay on the track when I wanted him to, but he was certainly the one for me, and after a long discussion with my parents we went ahead and signed the contract. I wish that we’d checked it more closely but Nemo was now mine every weekend, and that was all that mattered.
A LEARNING CURVE
We didn’t always get along swimmingly. Nemo was sometimes a bit grumpy, but he was patient while I learned to groom and tack up. He loved cuddles, and he appealed to my caring side due to the fact he’d been mistreated as a youngster.
Sometimes I rode without stirrups, sometimes I practised gymkhana games, sometimes I rode bareback, a few times we hacked out, and our favourite thing to do (because he loved it just as much as I did), was to gallop out in the fields. On Christmas Day, I spent an hour petting Nemo and feeding him treats, before grooming him with my shiny new grooming kit! The best gift he ever gave me were those little fragments of his trust – they were hard to come by in a pony like him, but when I got them it was the most special feeling ever, and my confidence blossomed.
Everything fell apart one day with no warning. I was about to call one of my friends on the house phone, when I saw we had a missed call and somebody had left a message. I listened to it… “I’m sorry for the short notice but I’m selling the ponies tomorrow!” Collapsing to the floor in floods of tears, I could barely stop crying for the rest of the day.
My friends were all very sympathetic, and my parents tried
to console me with offers of own-a-pony days and extra riding lessons, but I didn’t want them – I wanted Nemo. We checked the contract, but it was in vain. Nothing in there said we were entitled to any notice, or even first refusal on the sale! We should have checked before entering into it, but we never thought we’d be in that situation.
I’m totally devastated that I’ve lost Nemo, but at least I’ve still got my memories. I would like to urge all PONY readers who are thinking about taking on a loan pony… check the contract properly before you sign it!