I took my daughter for her first canter the other day. It was perfect! That was my Christmas miracle, the fact that there are perfect ponies, ponies that can give a child their first canter, ponies that will slow down if the rider is losing their balance, ponies that are simply perfect for the job they do.
We ask horses and ponies to do a range of different jobs. From riding school ponies, to racehorses, from para-dressage horses to showjumpers. They are endlessly obliging to our strange whims and desires. They are patient and tolerant, and when we decide that they should doing one thing and start doing another, they simply adapt.
It is simply astonishing when you think about it that they put up with us! They are far stronger than us, they could simply decide not to co-operate, but they don’t.
The pony that took my daughter for a canter, was incredible. The first time it simply went for a few strides. By the fifth canter, when the pony was more confident in the little rider, it went off happily and carried on cantering along the tracks.
Ponies like that are priceless, giving people good experiences builds confidence. Teaching children to ride by putting them on naughty ponies doesn’t help anyone. The children learn that ponies can be dangerous, the pony learns that it is in charge. Learning through positive experiences creates a better result, it creates harmony, and enjoyment. Lots of my childhood riding experiences were based around fear. Children don’t learn when they are scared, they learn when they are happy.
My Christmas miracle is a little pony called Dolly, and watching my daughter on that wonderful first canter. That was better than any fancily wrapped gift sat under the tree.