Loveable Rogue Harry – Part 1

It is dark. About six fifteen in the morning. I am standing, alone, in the yard at a livery stables not far from my home. When I say alone, this is not strictly accurate. I mean, there is no other person around. This is probably a good thing as I have been standing in the same place now for some time, one end of a lead rope in my hand, the other end clipped to the head collar of my new pony who steadfastly refuses to move. That there is no-one to bear witness to my shame and failure is the only silver lining in my otherwise, dark 14.2hh cloud. I have already decided that I am not going to force and bully my pony that we are going to be great friends and share a beautiful, understanding relationship. Indeed, I have even told him so. His reluctance to progress from his stable to his field however, shows me that perhaps he isn’t quite ready to declare himself my equine soul mate. At this point, Harry and I have known each other for just over two months.

Advertised as a ‘Loveable Rogue’, I had purchased Harry from the place where he had been born ten years previously and rode him the short distance, (literally down the road), to his new home. He thanked me for this by promptly bucking me off as soon as we arrived. As I lay there for those few seconds where your brain is processing that you are on the ground, flat on your back, his previous owner, having accompanied us, peered down at me and said “Are you sure you still want him?”. “Oh yes.” I replied getting to my feet, feeling stupidly proud that I had managed to keep hold of the reins as I flew through the air.

And so it began. Not the most auspicious start to our wonderful happy friendship, but a most understandable one. I knew Harry was getting anxious, and who could blame him? New yard, new horses and smells, new person! I could feel his heart rate increasing as we approached the yard. I should have dismounted, reassured him, or tried to, from the ground. But no. I decided to ‘push him through it’. Fool. A novice error. But that is what I was. What I am, if I am being honest.

Like a lot of people, I rode as a child, but I knew my parents were not in a position to buy me a horse. I returned to riding in adulthood, taking lessons when I could and later promising my children that one day, we would have a pony of our own. It seemed like a distant dream, but in fact once begun, the journey from tentative planning, to part loaning, to ownership happened surprisingly quickly along a meteoric learning curve. However, that is a story for another time.

Let us return to the darkness of the early morning yard.

I am still by myself, thank goodness, but still no further forward. I speak softly to Harry, stroke him tenderly, even kiss him, but still he will not budge. I do not understand and am beginning to get frustrated and impatient. Not only that, the clock is ticking and I need to get back home to the children before my husband leaves for work. I persuade and cajole, but to no avail and inevitably my frustration turns to anger. Why won’t the stupid pony move?! Does he not know I love him for goodness sake! I shout and tug at the lead rope, then the head collar. I am wrestling a 400+kg pony and this is not how it is supposed to be. Eventually, after much heaving and shouting, Harry begins to walk toward his field.

I return to the car sweaty and aching after wrangling Harry. I do not feel victorious, but instead rather unworthy. True, Harry might be in his field where he is supposed to be, but by what means? I feel sad and defeated as I head for home, my mood low. I feel what happened was wrong, and I know, inside, there has to be a better way.

Part 2 to follow soon!
About the author

Stacey Chamberlain

Stacey Chamberlain is the proud owner of Harry, a 14.2hh Cob x Dales pony. Stacey has always been a lover of horses and indeed all animals, but only experienced the privilege of horse ownership at the age of forty. From riding at a young age and viewing horses in the traditional equestrian sense, Stacey has learnt that her previous views are flawed. Stacey and Harry are now embarking on a new and growing friendship. A journey Stacey shares through her personal narrative. Stacey works as a dog walker and home boarder at her home in Leicestershire where she lives with her family and her own two dogs.

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