The pain of wanting a pony

When I was a child, I wanted a pony so much that it hurt. I was nine before I learned to ride and my one hour a week on the back of a horse was the high spot of my life. Between times, I devoured pony books and, completely ignoring my mum’s rules, I sat astride the back of the settee and imagined my own pony adventures.

The desire for a pony of my own started as soon as I started riding and was fuelled by the stories I read. The few main characters who didn’t have a pony at the beginning of the story always had one by the end. But they lived in a world surrounded by fields, where there was always a convenient orchard in which to keep the object of their desire.

We, on the other hand, lived in suburbia: row upon row of similar houses with neat front gardens and not an orchard in site. A pony was unrealisable dream, but that didn’t stop me pestering my parents for one. I even entered a competition to win a saddle in the hopes that, if I won it, they would feel duty bound to buy a pony to go under it.

Eventually my parents compromised. They would let me have a pony if I saved up enough to buy one. I suspect they thought that would let them off the hook, but they hadn’t allowed for my determination. I went without sweets and presents for a long, long time and the money I received instead gradually accumulated until finally there was enough to buy a very cheap pony.

I never got it. By the time I hit my target, my dad had developed terminal cancer and my mum faced a future bringing me up on a widow’s pension that definitely wouldn’t feed a horse as well as a growing daughter. Although I finally got a horse of my own when I grew up, childhood remained a time of dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams.

Maybe the pain of wanting a pony was a subconscious reason for my current choice of career. After all, in Jill’s Gymkhana, it is her mother’s success at writing children’s books that finally solves the money problems associated with keeping Prince.  But whatever the reason, now I write pony books myself, I am always aware that, for the majority of my readers, pony ownership is out of the question and even riding lessons may be an impossible dream.

2 thoughts on “The pain of wanting a pony

  1. Martine

    My parents actually bought a saddle and bridle for the pony that would never arrive… how about that for dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams!
    But like you, I ended up with my very own horse(s) and I made sure my children grew up with ponies. Still, they will never know that pain (and that’s the only word for it) of wanting, no needing, a pony. Maybe that’s why neither of them have the same resolve as their mum to keep at it, no matter what.

  2. Mary Benson

    I can identify with you completely. My desire for a horse or pony was all consuming as I was growing up. This was fed by the many “Western” movies which were popular at the time. I worshiped Roy and Trigger, loved the white horse Thunder Cloud as seen in movies like “Green Grass of Wyoming.”The” Black Stallion” series crowded my book shelves.
    My model horses were not Breyers (they were not available then) but my own attempts of models made from plasticine modeling clay.
    I galloped stick horses and straddled tree branches imagining them to be a horse. While other kids built snowmen, I created snow horses . These you could ride until they started melting under you. I prolonged their life by creating saddles made out of cardboard which acted as insulators.
    My break through came when we moved to a suburban area which bordered on farmland where there was – a riding stable!
    This became my second home. You could ride for $1.25 an hour and every Sat I would bike up to the stable with my allowance clutched in my hand .
    No, I did not own a horse growing up but did get to ride many -a valuable learning experience.
    Now several years later I still have the passion and have been fortunate enough to have had many equine companions sharing my life.

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