Who’s got two thumbs and prefers ponies over horses?
That’s right. I LOVE ponies.
All the little cantankerous, angry, cranky, trick pulling, bucking, ducking and dumping, monstrous little beasts. I love their attitudes and their sassiness. I LOVE PONIES.
I feel like I belong in a support group for the part of the Equestrian population who is in love with the little monsters. “Hi, I’m 5’6” and I’m addicted to ponies.” Admitting you have a problem is always the first step, right? I’m that guy who shows up at shows with a barn full of OTTBs and sneaks off to watch the pony classes.
In fact, last year at a big show this poor little girl, perfectly turned out with her pony groomed to a T…the whole picture was frame worthy…well she goes into the ring for her class, pony clears two jumps, spins like a top and dumps the little girl (she was absolutely fine, popped right up and dusted herself off. Another great thing about ponies, the fall isn’t very far). After he dumps this poor kid he gallops around and then heads straight for the gate. Her trainer runs to the gate, arms in the air in the classic “No pony! You can’t get past me!” posture. I swear to you this pony SCREAMED at the trainer, the funniest whinny I’ve ever heard. He couldn’t have made his intentions more clear, “Get OUT of the way, woman! I’m leaving even if I have to take you down with me!”
Luckily she got the hint and booked it out of his way as he galloped his merry little butt all the way back to his barn. I wanted to take that pony home.
So yeah, I’m that horse girl. The one that loves working with the little stinkers. Like I said before, it’s not a far fall to the ground if they boot you off, so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s because they have SO much personality, even if it’s not always the most pleasant personality. I couldn’t tell you the reasoning, but when you get on a pony that wants to work and wants to give you all it’s got, there’s nothing quite like being on one of those little powerhouses.
I’ve always had my friends laughing at me because I have such long legs and insist on riding ponies. I’m fairly tall and am frequently told how beautifully my legs fit the OTTBs I’ve ridden, and yet I prefer to ride those little barrels of dynamite. It’s crazy how I get on a regular size horse and my confidence sinks… I feel ridiculous and not good enough and I start belittling myself. Then I sit on one of the ponies and suddenly I feel like the master of the Universe. I am admittedly self deprecating, especially in the area of my riding abilities. But for some reason, ponies give me confidence.
When I finally realized that my OTTB mare and I were never going to click under saddle, it became apparent to me that my dreams were bigger than my abilities. It’s a hard realization to come to, especially when you love that horse with every bit of your heart. But when you tack your horse up, get to the mounting block and can’t bring yourself to mount up because you’re shaking too hard….well……you might want to admit to yourself that there’s something there that goes deeper than loving that horse. Fear is a much stronger emotion than love, unfortunately, and I’m not the brave rider I was when I was 16.
Given, when I was 16 and a brave rider, I STILL preferred ponies.
As the great Denny Emerson frequently points out, what good does it do the rider (or the horse) to be tense on a horse that they don’t click with? Too much horse for a rider is a bad equation, and I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of that.
So, instead of a full size horse after my OTTB, I went with adopting a Haflinger cross. The perfect mix of pony and draft horse. Haflingers are pretty athletic little buggers, usually very sweet with just a little too much mischief. They also think they’re bulldozers, but hey, what are you gonna do? Everyone has their quirks.
While Walle was out of commission over the summer and fall, my trainer was amazing enough to let me play with the lesson horses. My horses of choice? The Mustang, Bean, who’s one heck of a jumper. And a sassy little welsh cross named Nike who is an amazing dressage pony. I took some jumping lessons on Bean (I am, admittedly, not a great jumper), and tried to help keep Nike in some sort of shape for the summer by doing flatwork with him. I had a blast with those. So while I’m excited to get my boy back to work (which just keeps getting put on hold due to life in general), I’m glad that I at least had the ability to ride two pretty great ponies over the summer/fall to remind me why I prefer those little monsters over horses! I’m just always going to be that girl, the one who loves ponies.
So here’s an ode to all of my fellow pony lovers out there! I know I’m not the only one!