A Pony Named Lightning Part Five
To their credit, my friends although visibly stunned and taken aback when told Lightning was not for sale after all, refused to allow a pony to come between us. It was awkward but they were fantastic and as yet nobody was privy to what was just around the corner for us all in our strangely entangled Lightning ventures. And let's be honest, we weren't talking about a squillion dollar world champion here. Lightning could not even be perceived as a diamond in the rough. At this point he was all rough and the only carats involved were orange and edible! Now that he was truly ours with no ownership cloud ominously lingering, we were able to get on with the job of making a long term plan for him. Accordingly, he was wormed again, shoes off, feet trimmed and turned out into an enormous paddock at the back of the farm where he obligingly remained with various interchangeable friends for company. After six months of being left to grow, we bought him back in, tacked him up and the young girl taking care of our horses rode him if somewhat reluctantly at first. But as we all believed would forever be the case with this kind little pony, he behaved impeccably and his getting back into work commenced without incident. It was school holidays at this time which meant my housekeeper would bring her two children to work with her. One loved to help her mum get the chores done and be quicker to leave. The other would sprawl on my sofa and watch movies often three at a time. The incessant channel flicking got to me on a particular day and I suggested she may like to help with the horses. Minutes later, I watched her and Lightning streak past the kitchen window currently being cleaned. Ears keenly pricked, Lightning, in a halter, no bridle, cover still on, galloped fast through the garden with the housekeeper's daughter perched happily on top waving cheerily at me as I stood there gaping, cleaning cloth at my side. Before anyone could say 'Oh my goodness, what are those two up to', Lightning was on their family float twice a week and attending pony club. Here he cantered around the cross country jumps on a very loose rein, his young jockey chortling and laughing with her friends, showing them all what the now three year old pony could do. "Come on Lightning!" she would coax. "You can do this!" And 'do this' he did. There wasn't a jump at the pony club the pair wouldn't happily tackle. When this girl's own pony was out of action for a much anticipated inter-school competition and the team would be let down, Lightning was the stand in. At the completion of that one day event, Lightning held the highest score of all. This young girl, by taking what can only be described as a very 'relaxed approach', I believe, molded and established forever more, Lightning's laid back attitude to all things new and potentially scary. Sadly, as is often the case with budding teen riders, trips to the mall can be more enticing than putting the work into a green pony and it became clear that I'd have to find a more permanent arrangement for Lightning. He was showing a lot of promise at dressage. I suspected he may be one of those contenders that would be very hard to mark down in a test. He was obedient, very accurate and his paces even. We knew he had the ability to jump cross-country. It was his show jumping that required work. And then I had a brainwave. I rang my friends and told them of it. These were the same friends I'd pipped to the post when buying Lightning. The very same friends who had some months earlier arrived expectantly to purchase him and to be told that he would never be for sale.
In a heartbeat, they traveled six hours to our farm in their truck along with their youngest daughter, a competent twelve year old rider who now really did need a pony, to let her try Lightning. I had given my solemn promise, that if she liked him, she could take him home, treat him as her own and use him until she outgrew him. It was a win win. My dear friends would get the pony after all to use and my small grandson, Fergus, would retain ownership. I would be guilt free. What could be more perfect.
Lightning was bought in from the paddock, saddled and bridled and the gorgeous twelve year girl led him into the arena and mounted up. They walked several paces down the long side, moved into a soft trot and just when everyone was excitedly saying how perfectly wonderful these two looked together and the young girl was smiling from ear to ear saying she loved Lightning, he skipped into a canter, dropped his head and bucked and bucked and bucked again in a fashion that would put even the best Broncos to shame. This pony that had never put a foot wrong threw his rider from one side of the arena to the other. And then, stirrups and reins flying, he galloped back into the yard and stood where he'd been tacked up. He gave me a triumphant look that even in all the chaos, made me do a double take.
Everyone ran to gather up the poor wee girl who was badly grazed and shaken. But I stood there, boots bolted to the ground, mouth opening and closing like a stunned fish and no words coming out.
Again my long suffering friends were immediately incredibly understanding of this situation. They are true horse people who know this unexpected behavior can happen. But could I just shut up and accept philosophically that this partnership was clearly never meant to be? Of course not. I was stunned and my first impulse after I'd taken in the fact that our rider was shaken but not seriously injured, although the grazes were fairly significant, was to grab my phone and speak to the housekeeper. It was about now that I realized this situation didn't look good. Not good at all. Did my friends think I'd fitted them up with an unruly dangerous pony? I put my housekeeper on speaker and cried into the phone, "Has Lightning ever bucked? At all? Ever?"
She said he hadn't ever even looked like bucking. I held the phone up and pointed at it, as if to say, "See! Did you hear that?" But then I realized this looked even worse. Maybe staged. Now I was beside myself, and could I shut up and let everyone take stock and regroup and think for a bit? No I could not. I gabbled on and on until I'm pretty sure my long suffering friend wanted to hit me. I saw that. And fortunately for me, her arms were wrapped in consolation around her crying daughter, so she could not disentangle herself to execute a good slap.
I can only add, my heart racing as I write this at the mere memory of it all, that the next invaluable lesson Lightning taught me was to always have a comprehensive first aid kit at the stables.
© iSpyHorses 2016
Pictured - Lightning in boot camp!