When we moved to Kerry we were a completely horse-free family……not for long. Our eldest daughter, Ruth, discovered the local trekking centre and it quickly became her second home. I followed on then daughter number two and the rest is history.
I took part in my first hunt by accident (a story for another day) but then Fran, the owner of the trekking centre offered me one of her ponies, a 14 hand 2″ Connemara to go hunting (on the grounds that he was “pure useless at jumping”). Shadow LOVED hunting. He also proved to be very capable of jumping as I discovered one day when we came around a corner on a grassy track at speed to be faced with a five-bar gate…we sailed over it!
Subsequently, Ruth took him to her first hunt. Her father borrowed a horse box and set off with daughter and pony to the meet. A great day was had and Ruth and Shadow returned hours later, both still in a state of huge excitement. In fact Shadow was nowhere near ready to go home…..he wanted to go round again.
At this point in the family’s equine career, my husband knew that a horse had an end that kicked and an end that bit and very little else. He was not in any way prepared for a pony that wouldn’t load. Ruth, at about 12 years of age and with a year of pony club experience knew not a lot more. She made several attempts at loading Shadow without success, when, as they do, the “experts” all arrived.Hubby, knowing no better, left them at it. There were whips, brushes and lunge lines applied to his rear. He was pulled and tugged. Feed was produced in an attempt to bribe him….all to no avail. One by one the “experts” drifted away leaving child and pony at the base of the ramp. Finally four strong lads strolled over. “Having a problem?” “fraid so”. Without breaking stride, they divided up and each one dropped down beside a leg, got their shoulders in and bodily lifted Shadow onto the ramp. Like a flash they picked up the ramp and lifted….higher and higher, as Shadow contracted his body to keep himself back as far as he could until, finally, gravity took over and he shot into the box…..clunk, click and a “There you go Boss.” and the lads went on their way!!!!!