When Little Girls with Scissors Meet Ponies

Betty bangs

This pony belongs to the Horse Rescue Fund in Norfolk, and the little girl at his loan home had decided to tidy him up before he went back to them.
I hope to write more about the HRF in the future as they’re one of the longer established horse rescues and part of the fabric of the Norfolk horse community. I rode one of their rescues, Orlando, at Cringleford Riding School as a young ‘un, and many of their horses and ponies became well-known show and gymkhana champs in the county.

The English Country House

Cragside

Simsar, a poster on the Horse and Hound forum, loaded up her great-grandfather’s  photos of his time as head groom at Cragside, a stately home in Northumberland now owned by the National Trust. Click here to find the album of 49 photos like this beautiful shot of one of the ladies of the household (I’m guessing)  waiting for the meet to head off.

Parenting the Pony-mad Child

‘Pamela was only a little girl, but she had out-grown dolls and even Teddy Bears. She was her father’s pet, and so she usually got what she wanted.

One Sunday, as he was finishing his breakfast and looking forward to a round of golf, she said:

“Daddy, please give me a pony.”

“Certainly, darling; later on.”

Now, Daddy.”

In a good humour, he said that she was too young; ordinarily he would have been angry. Pamela, however, remarked (oh, very sweetly!):

“But I’m eight years old now, and I heard that wonderful Mr. Rider, who is so good with horses, say that children should begin to learn when they are six!”

The car was at the door. Father was in a hurry, but, when he saw Pamela looking hurt, he chucked her under the chin, smiled, and whispered:

“Daddy is not so rich any longer; he’ll buy you that pony when times are better. I hope that times soon will be better.”

Pamela told him how sorry she was to hear of his bad luck, and said that he was not to worry about the pony until he became rich again, and that she loved him very dearly.

***

Three hours later, at the golf clubhouse, Pamela’s father told his friends how thoughtful and kind she had been when he mentioned he was poor. He admitted tht he was not really poor at all. Other fathers smiled. But a bachelor spoke up for her and, like a knight of old, acted as her champion.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” he said, rather angrily. “If I had a lovely little girl like yours, I ‘d do everything I could to give her that pony, for she has behaved like a brick. I fail to see the joke.”

Some of the men clapped at this.

***

A week passed. Father and daughter were again sitting at Sunday breakfast. He was imagining some wonderful drives to be made in an hour’s time. Pamela was thinking sadly about that pony – not to be hers for a long, long while, she feared.

Suddenly Father leaned across the table and asked:

“Are you sure, quite sure, Pam, that you would rather learn to ride than play golf?”

Naturally, there was only one answer. It was settled straight away that if she promised to learn how to ride properly, she would have a pony. Pamela promised, and then she ran to the other side of the table and kissed her father gratefully. He, too, was glad.’

From Pamela and her Pony ‘Flash’ by Antonio P Fachiri (1936).

Nina’s Filly

Last summer I was lucky enough to be introduced to one of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s herds of Konik ponies, who are busy doing conservation work by stuffing themselves silly on grass, rushes, and tree leaves. The material wasn’t right for If Wishes Were Ponies, but I hope to use it in future work. Meantimes, here’s one of the fillies, who snuck up on me to sniff my elbow. I like the way she’s posed here on a tussock like a miniature “Wild Stallion on the Outcrop”.

Konik youngster at Thompson's Common

Strange Girls and Fairytale Horses

Please click through to see these wonderfully sinister horse-headed girls and a horse called White Wings with a trailing, Rapunzel mane and tail, which led me on to this page of long-haired Oregon horses of the nineteenth century:

“In the early history of Oregon traditions of a herd of magnificent wild horses that roamed at will over her mountains and valleys were told the settlers, and, like many other tales of like character, seemed beyond belief. It was said this herd was led by an enormous chestnut stallion, whose mane and tail were so abundant and of such length as to almost envelop the entire animal in a wealth of flowing hair. For years this ‘Wild King of Oregon Wonder Horses’ roamed over the country, ever alert to stampede his followers and flee with almost the rapidity of the wind at the approach of a human being.”

Thank you to William13 for the link.

Continental Fancies

Some suggestions of names for horses from A New Method  and Extraordinary Invention to dress Horses, And work them according to Nature; As also, to perfect NATURE by the Subtilty of ART; Which was never found out, but by the Thrice Noble, High and puissant PRINCE William Cavendishe (1657):

Bonissimo

Grandissimo

La Petite Barbe

L’Amour

Mala Testa

Gatto

(Cavendish was perhaps the most influential of the Brits who tried to import the Continental Haut Ecole style, although it was never very popular with a nation who preferred to hunt and race than passage and piaffe.)

Horses and the Credit Crunch

The horse world’s reaction to the recession has not been monolithic. On the one hand, much of the industry has held firm as people go on spending money on their horses. On the other, the number of horses abandoned or turned over to welfare organisations has increased, and people are, for once, facing up to the problem of what to do with so-called “surplus horses”. Probably no surprise to horsekind, who’ve long known that their fate depends entirely on the human hands that hold their halter rope.

This week brought a series of stories from Ireland that illustrate it neatly – although I could easily have dug through my filing cabinet and found earlier articles that show the same thing happening in the UK. Here’s the Irish Independent saying that the Dublin Horse Show (which opens today and has been running since 1864) is holding its own, albeit with lower champagne sales, while the Irish Times writes up proposals for a one-off horse cull, with the government covering the costs of slaughter.