Sister Act

Annie knows her older sister Izzy finds her a nuisance, but when a new pony arrives, Izzy needs her sibling’s help more than ever

Real life drama Sister Act


“Ugh, hurry up, Annie,” wails Izzy from way out in front. Mum sends a glare in her direction while walking beside me and my little patchy cob, Henry. “Just wait a minute, please, Izzy. Stop rushing off,” Mum calls again sternly, and I give Henry a pat on the neck. 

“Why do we always have to go together? I should’ve gone with Arielle instead – at least she actually CANTERS,” Izzy shouts again, pushing her pony Strider into trot, causing Henry to panic as his buddy disappears out of sight. I tense, clutch the reins and even close my eyes in panic. Luckily, Mum’s there to grab us, but it doesn’t stop the shame and embarrassment from creeping in. Why am I always so nervous, even on a hack? I know Izzy gets frustrated with me. After all, she’s 13 and loves going off to shows, jumping Strider over big fences and galloping out on hacks. Whereas I’m only 10 and struggle a lot with my confidence. I prefer caring for the ponies, pampering and cuddling them, and I’m often dragged along to watch Izzy at yet another show, while I sit on the sidelines cheering her on. Nonetheless, Mum and Dad still make us do everything together, even though, these days, we’re worlds apart. 


Although Strider’s the perfect pony, it’s starting to become clear that Izzy’s getting too big for him. Naturally, Izzy doesn’t want me to have him as she says he’d be “wasted” on me – and she’s probably right. Strider’s only in his early teens and deserves a new brave rider who wants to go out and have fun at Pony Club rallies and competitions. I’m too nervous for that – plus, I’m more than happy with my little Henry anyway. 

So, Strider goes out on loan to a lucky young boy called Owen with big ambitions and, instead, Mum and Dad decide that Izzy’s ready for more of a challenge. She’s learnt some epic skills on Strider, but in comes a fiery four-year-old Connemara called Stanley. He has bags of potential, but is he right for Izzy? I’m not sure – you’d never see me on his back, anyway. But Mum and Dad think it’s a good idea and Izzy seems excited at the prospect of training him up. 


It’s becoming clear that Izzy is very frustrated. She’s fallen off three times and counting, and is clearly missing Strider. After all, she’s used to competing most weekends and being able to do whatever she wants, but with a four-year-old, it’s not that simple. She’s bored of walking out on hacks around the block with only Henry and I for company, and tired of the endless circles in the school and watching Mum lunge. 

“When are we going to teach him to jump?” she pleads with Mum one day, as she watches her long-rein round the edge of the school. “Izzy, he can’t even balance himself in canter yet, so how do you expect him to jump?” Izzy crosses her arms and I can feel an argument on the horizon. “You can always have a jump on Henry if you like? He’d probably enjoy that,” I say.  

Izzy turns and looks down at me, nose turned up. “You really think I’d want to jump a boring old cob like that? No thanks.” I can feel tears welling in my eyes. Mum overhears and brings Stanley to a halt, trying to remain calm for his benefit. “Izzy, get in the car, NOW.” My sister huffs and sulks off. 


“I’m taking Stanley out for a hack on my own,” Izzy announces. “I don’t think you are, young lady,” replies Mum. “Well, he’s my pony, so I’m going,” she says. “Not without me or your dad. It’s not safe,” Mum stands her ground. Izzy rolls her eyes. 

While we’re out riding, Mum is in the distance behind us and, for once, I find myself walking side by side with Izzy. Stanley likes to keep Henry with him for company, unlike Strider, who was as bold as brass and not scared of anything. Suddenly, Izzy gets a glint in her eye as we turn a corner and approach a grass strip. “Let’s give them a canter,” she says, menacingly. 

My stomach churns. “I’m not sure that’s the best idea. Stanley’s never cantered out before, has he?” I mumble. 

Izzy shrugs. “First time for everything. Anyway, you need to get a grip and canter more.” In a flash, she turns onto the grass and squeezes Stanley forward. He takes off and, before I know it, Henry’s following. Izzy and Stanley are getting further and further away and I shout “Izzy, slow down!” as I lean back and frantically try to gather up my reins. 

Then I hear a scream. Izzy’s out of control. Not able to stop myself, I watch in terror as Stanley throws in an enormous buck, sending my sister flying into the air and down onto the ground with a thud. I pull Henry up with all my might and jump off to check if Izzy’s okay. “I just want Strider back,” she whispers, before bursting into tears and holding her left arm. Luckily, Mum comes running towards us, grabbing Stanley who’s returned to be with Henry, tail up and nostrils flaring. 

Back at the yard, Mum sits Izzy down in the feed room and the yard manager brings some ice for her shoulder, which she’s clearly hurt. Mum sees to Stanley, and I turn Henry out before going to see if she’s okay. I find Izzy lying theatrically across a bale of hay, still sobbing into her high-vis. I sink down next to her and place a hand on her good shoulder. “You really miss Strider, don’t you?” I say, tentatively. Izzy sniffs and wipes her nose, nodding. “Well, he’s only on loan. We can always get him back…” I offer. 

Izzy sighs and shakes her head. “But I do love Stanley, even after this, and we all know I’m too big for Strider now. It wouldn’t be fair, and Owen already loves him so much.” 

“Think of all the potential Stanley has. Sure, he’ll take lots of time to train up, but in a few years you’ll be flying, bigger and better than ever and it’ll all be down to you.” Izzy sighs and gives a half smile. “Thanks,” she says, still too embarrassed to look at me, but I know she means it. 


Izzy’s shoulder soon heals up and she swallows her pride, getting to work on training Stanley with the help of a new coach. Despite his young age and lack of experience, he’s turning out to be really clever, learns super-quickly and rarely does anything cheeky that unseats Izzy. We even manage to take him to an in-hand show to get him used to a busier environment. When we get there he’s pretty nervous, but we’ve brought Henry along to help comfort him and, though different as can be, they’re best friends – a bit like me and my sister now, I suppose. 

While we’re there, Izzy even convinces me to enter a class myself – hairiest monster – where I get to trot round and show off Henry’s gorgeous, fluffy feathers. And guess what? This time, it’s Izzy’s turn to cheer for me as we come second! I’ve never won a rosette before and it’s the best moment of my life! Maybe showing’s my calling? 

Just as we’re about to load the ponies, I catch Izzy watching her Pony Club friends competing in the showjumping class. I walk over and squeeze her hand. “Don’t worry, that’ll be you soon,” I smile, and Izzy turns and gives me a big hug. 

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