Pony Party Beginnings – The Love Of Horses
It seems fair to say that once upon a time, horses and perhaps ponies too, were very much a part of every day life. When I was young, the baker, the milkie, the ‘bottlo’ went about their daily business with the help of horse drawn wagons and carts. We knew about polite ‘horsey droppings’ along the byways and highways. But time and progress changes everything.
Nowadays horses belt around the racetracks of the nation and the punters know all about the odds and evens but not much about the intricacies of managing a horse on a day to day basis. The beloved Gee Gee is no longer a viable beast of burden in the service of humankind. Horses are now in fact ‘beasts of sport’ for humankind! And not just for adults!
Horses and of course ponies, are indeed active in the lives of many young children today in the form of hand led pony rides at parties or events, country trail rides, riding schools and school holiday riding programs for non horse owners, and the amazing world of pony club.
A Dad’s Perspective
My involvement in horse ownership began with my eldest daughter, Michelle who declared an undying love of horses, expressing the desire to own a pony of her own to ride. Hmm! Well, after trying to divert her interest to something else, I began to accept the idea that my darling daughter was serious about wanting to go ‘horse riding’ no matter what. As a father, you try to talk a daughter out of something she is determined to do … huh! then you accept reality and re-arrange your budget.
Once I had accepted impending horse ownership – thus began the search for a suitable mount for a child 11 years of age. Search! Search being the operative word – where does one begin? And how do you know what is a good pony for a child if you have no idea or experience yourself? Some ponies where cheap and some definitely weren’t and all purported to be ‘excellent child’s first mount’. We stumbled upon someone who was involved in something called Pony Club who offered the expertise we needed and found a great first pony – ‘Travis’.
The Care & Up Keep Of Ponies
I soon realised that we would have to arrange agistment, a paddock for the beloved creature – another expense. And then… I am advised that horses need something called ‘tack’- a saddle, bridle, reins and a myriad of other essential items like buckets, brushes and lord only knows what else to make them happy.
Oh and ponies also need to be fed and not just grass. Apparently our garage needed to be filled with bales of hay, sacks of chaff, oats and bran. But the expense did not stop there either. The darling little rider needed to be kitted out with riding clothes, then she needed riding lessons.
Ponies also require attention to their hooves every couple of months. Travis was a lucky pony, daughter said that he ‘had’ to wear horse shoes … which is a little more than just a ‘manicure’. But that’s not all, there’s more – the vet will need to be called every so often, I guess sometime a pony just doesn’t feel well, but I’m told the vet will ‘de-worm’ the pony saving us more visits from the vet.
Well, once the dust settled, and the budget was… er, trimmed by necessity, and I thought that was the worst of it, we were now joining a Pony club. And we discovered that a horse-float would be required to transport the ‘beast of burden’ to and from pony club. Fortunately we at least had a vehicle capable of pulling a horse float.
Pony Club – To Join or Not To Join?
So now we are pony club parents invited to do our bit around the Club. Dads get to lug the heavy equipment such as the show jumping polls, barrels, bunting to mark out areas … and clean up and put everything away afterwards. Mums do the canteen thing amongst other lovely chores.
Before long, daughter has progressed with her riding skills and is now participating in club events and, she is showing some real talent as a rider and competitor in show jumping and cross country events. We are becoming a wee bit proud of darling daughter in fact!
At this time, our youngest son and our youngest daughter are also expressing an interest in horse riding too. Great! Two more ponies to add to the string, more riding clothes, riding equipment … two more little pony clubbers! However, one of my fondest moments during those years was when – on each of their own merits, my 3 riding children qualified for the ‘A’ team in the pony club zone trials for eventing where they came second.
Well that was all 30 years ago now and trying not to sound clichéd, but it really did seem like yesterday. My eldest daughter maintained her involvement in horses and competition well into her late 20’s and still to this day has horses and ponies in her life – she runs a successful kids party business called Balloonaversal Entertainments and of course has included pony rides for the kids.
Horses And Ponies Are Great Trainers Of Human Beings!
As Michelle grew older, her involvement in pony club progressed to being elected on the junior committee where these young people held monthly board meeting to organise the various activities for the members – professional open horse shows, club rides even the annual Aussie Rules football match held on the sand arena (deliberately flooded with water overnight) with the Nunawading Pony Club.
So who would ever have thought that horse ownership and belonging to a pony club would provide such wonderful life skills? I have come to notice that my daughter’s involvement in horses has in fact shown me something more about her. Not only does she have an exceptional knowledge in the care and training of both horses & riders, but also wonderful life skills like discipline, commitment, being organized, courage, striving for excellence, responsibility, goal setting & clear thinking, just to name a few.
I see this not only in my eldest daughter Michelle, but my other children as well.
Horses Guided My Children Through The Perils Of The Teenage Years
My wife and I were always happy with the fact that our daughter’s love of horses, (and indeed her younger brother and sister) seemed to have thankfully guided her past the dreaded ‘boy’ stage and to some degree that rebellious teenage stage.
We always encouraged her goal setting for equestrian events and I think it was having these goals and purposes in life that definitely steered her past a lot of the teenage pitfalls. During this phase of her life Michelle won many, many prizes for her riding abilities.
It now makes me proud when I look at my daughter and see the kind of woman she has become. Now she has children of her own, a wonderful marriage and a thriving business with her husband Peter. She doesn’t compete any more but of course still has the involvement with horses via the pony parties – which I know are full of fun for the children. And it seems her two little boys have captured her love of horses too.
Written by Ralph W Anthony-Purnell
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