My first pony, Henny, was going really well, but I was getting too big for her. So we decided to go to the New Forest to buy a wild pony and back it ourselves, as Mum was very experienced.
There were loads of ponies in pens and I was so excited.
But there was nothing there we really liked and I was very disappointed – until we walked down one of the last rows and there he was, waiting for us… Bobby was so thin and scrawny, but I loved him anyway.
So we bought him and he came to live at my grandad’s farm, where Mum lunged and trained him. Then he was backed and it didn’t seem long before I was riding him.
Bobby went from strength to strength and we started doing little shows. I was so proud of him and very soon, we were winning prizes – for example, we won some one day events and were placed several times, too.
Bobby was only six years old when we were selected for the Pony Club team. It was the area trials, the biggest thing I had ever entered, and I was in the team. The pressure was enormous! But Bobby was a fantastic pony and did a stunning dressage test, and went clear in the cross country and showjumping.
He was a superstar and I was so pleased with him because most of the jumps were over a metre high.
The rest of the team – Joey, Charlotte and Vanessa – did really well, and we won the area trials, with Bobby winning his section, which meant that we were off to the National Championships! So we had to do more preparation than we’d done before and started meeting at Joey’s yard for regular training sessions. Then, before we knew it, we were ready to go.
The champs were three hours away, but already I was getting excited. And as we got closer to the show, we saw signs saying ‘Novice National Championships’. Then, as we turned into the showground, I saw a sea of horseboxes and in the corner of the field, there were loads of portable stables. We parked and I got Bobby out. He shot out of the trailer like a bullet and I had to walk him round for ages to settle him, which is when I spotted a cross-country jump – it looked huge!
I decided to ride Bobby while Dad sorted out his stable. We trotted around and saw some more jumps and Bobby squealed and everyone looked at us, but I just laughed and carried on trying to settle him down before putting him away in his stable.
I really wanted to walk the course and I was getting nervous, so Mum and I set off across the course. There were so many jumps and it looked really difficult, so I knew that it would be a real test for Bobby and me.
We came back to our trailer and we were delighted to see that Dad and my brother Arthur had put up the tent. Then, after a delicious barbecue, we snuggled up for the night, but I couldn’t sleep thinking about what lay ahead. Next day, everyone was understandably nervous, but our team did really well. Joey, the youngest member – but a great rider – rode Bart. He was not very experienced, but did really well with only one stop on the cross country.
Charlotte rode Sydney (Sid), who was a lot more experienced and won their section. Then there was Vanessa with Amy, who was experienced, but the pair was sadly eliminated on the cross country for missing out a jump. And then it was my turn… Bobby was a bit frisky warming up for the dressage and I was really nervous, but once we were in the arena, all I could hear was the heavy thud of Bobby’s hooves.
We went really well and I was very pleased with him. Next was the cross country. I can remember walking into the start box and my heart was beating like a drum. Three, two, one and we were off. Bobby was galloping over the fields, jumping everything in his way.
Then we came to the water – it actually had a jump in the water, which Bobby had never done before. We came down the slope, into the water and Bobby slowed down. But it wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know what to do.
I felt my dreams fading away, but I gave him one final kick. He leapt over the jump and we were back on our way. I was thrilled – he was such a good boy and we went clear.
Finally, the showjumping. Bobby looked at number three, he got a bit close and we had a pole down. He also had the planks down which was unlucky. In the end, Wales won the champs, but everybody in our team was so pleased anyway.
Bobby is a superstar and the best pony in the whole world – ever! He went from wild pony to superstar!