My Life With Horses & Ponies – To A Pony Rides Business
My Love of horses was the basis of me eventually establishing a pony rides and pony party business in 2000. The love of horses has struck many a child and I’m sure as parents there are many of you – even the odd dad, who dreamed of owning your own horse or pony and begged and nagged your parents to take you to the local riding school for pony rides, or stop the car to pat the horse hanging his head over the fence and more to the point – buy a horse! And of course a pony party one year was a major highlight. I have many a fond memory of playing horsies in the school yard – acting out the scenes from The Silver Brumby, having drawing competitions within our ‘horse lovers club’, watching every horse movie that came on TV on a Saturday (even cancelling everything else to watch the movie). For me it’s been a ‘sickness’ that has lasted a life time and I was one of the fortunate ones who’s nagging paid off.
Pony Rides Can Lead To Life Long Happy Memories
When I was 11, dad (read the story from a father of a pony rides & pony party entertainer), who drove cabs part time on the weekends and met the parents of a young lady who owned a horse quite near us and organized for me to have regular riding lessons. I can still remember that first day sitting on ‘Specks’, learning how to hold the reins, just that feel of being on his back, listening to the foot fall as he kindly walked around for the total beginner he carried – that was over 30 years ago and I can still remember that feeling of excitement.
During that year of riding lessons with Annette and I had gained a good level of expertise – being able to walk, trot, canter – stop (use the brakes) and start (step on the accelerator), pop over small jumps, but more importantly how to safely be around a pony – how to tie him up, groom him, how to lead, saddle and bridle. When I think about it, Annette taught me very well, and she gained her ‘expertise’ from being member of the local pony club. We were ready to take the next step – buying a horse.
By the end of the year my dad had met another horsey person, a man by the name of Ted Edgar who assisted us to purchase a horse – my first pony. We went to a riding school, which from distant memory was in Rowville, I think on the corner of Wellington & Stud Rds, and looked at several ponies. I saw a beautiful paint horse, but he wasn’t for sale and he was too big. The decision was made for me and on the following weekend a truck arrived at the arranged agistment with ‘Travis’ a bright bay pony who was 13.2 hands.
Templestowe Pony Club members – my brother, sister and me
A Pony Rides Business Is Born
From there my riding ‘career’ took off, eventually joining Donvale Pony Club and later Templestowe Pony Club, going to my first show jumping competition, moving on to a larger 16 hand Connemara x Thoroughbred horse by the name of Barwidgee Chirado, and began competing in horse trials, with huge success – eventually going up the grades to grade 1 level and competing in the Flynn Pony Club State Championships and receiving 1st place. At 18 I was eligible to compete in open competition and carried on with serious riding and competing taking one of my horses Exposé up to ‘intermediate’ level of horse trials and competed at the Kooralbyn National Three Day Event in QLD in 1990. Ten years later I discovered kids’ entertainment and embarked on one of the most satisfying career moves – bringing the joy of horses and ponies to the suburban backyard with our delightful kids pony rides and pony parties.
I regularly gave riding lessons at Wyena Pony Club rallies, passing on what I had been taught over the years to the young riders, as well as giving private tuition. I found it such a privilege teaching the younger kids and I always mixed up the formal riding tuition with fun and games. Riding wasn’t the only thing I taught, I also taught horsemastership which includes all the safe handling and safely aspects children should learn when handling and riding their ponies.
During the week I rode and trained other people’s horses, re-educated Thoroughbred ex-racers and sold them on as competitive sports horses. For quite a while I lived, breathed, talked, walked, rode and dreamed horses – life was very good.
I Still Love Ponies
Life was very good, but life moves on – things change, different responsibilities take up your time. I don’t compete anymore (which is fine, I probably don’t bounce as easily as I did when I was a lot younger – harder to take those falls), but I still live with ponies and bring the joy of horses to young children’s homes in the form of – and as our business moto goes – ‘Balloonaversal Pony Parties – so much more than just pony rides’, we really do try to bring the joy of horses to children’s lives, even if it’s just for a few hours. How precious are our children.
Written by Michelle Patterson
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