Fun and Games on the Farm.

Mischief the Black Shetland Pony. Dad with us kids age four, two and one.

Mischief the Black Shetland Pony. Dad with us kids age four, two and one.

My parents had us all riding at a very young age, on very old quiet horses. Notice the hat on the rider, and the special little leather stirrups, so little boots were safe.

My parents had us all riding at a very young age, on very old quiet horses. Notice the hat on the rider, and the special little leather stirrups, so little boots were safe.

Double dinking on old Toby aged about 28 years.

Double dinking on old Toby aged about 28 years.

I had been given a gorgeous bay pony for my 13th birthday. When I say given, I really mean I decided that I wanted that pony for my own. I embarked on a project to acquire the pony. The project involved a load of pleading and cajoling,and a series of actions to wrest control of the pony from my parents.This involved amongst other things, being on my absolute best behaviour, and nagging my parents for sole rights to the pony. I named him Johnny Boy.

Johnny Boy had been a stallion at stud  all of his life. He had been ridden in  his younger days, but otherwise had not been ridden in over 15 years. I think my parents bought him to breed, but he had lost his mojo. So dad had him castrated and trained him to be ridden. He was the most stunning pony to watch. He had a magnificent long black thick mane and tail, and a beautiful golden brown coat. When he cantered or galloped he arched his neck, and generally pranced around like the proud stallion he had been.

I rode Johnny Boy as often as I could. However he had this funny little quirk. He walked, trotted and cantered beautifully. It was perfect behaviour, and we won many ribbons at local shows and events. However, once I urged him into a full gallop, he bucked and pig rooted non stop, trying to throw me off his back. I realised years later that in the castration process there had obviously been a setback, or nerves cut or twisted to cause this behaviour.

Needless to say, I would cling to him, my legs and thighs attached to his body like super glue. There was absolutely no way he would buck me off, or get rid of me. When it suited me to frighten my parents, or scare the neighbours, or visitors or just provide me with some excitement, I would urge johnny boy into a gallop, and the bucking, pig rooting process would commence.  He bucked the whole time in the gallop.

One day I came up over the hill and decided we would gallop down the hill and all the way home. I was refining my seat during this bucking and pig rooting exercise.

I had not told my parents about this behaviour of my pony, I kept it a secret and usually only performed the exercise when my parents were out of sight.

Dad came over the hill in his Jaguar one day, and spotted me at full gallop during the bucking performance. He was so frightened, he stopped the car and yelled at me to get off the horse. I pretended I had not heard him and continued along the side of the road for another few hundred metres, finally stopping at the front gate to greet dad.

My father was acting rather scary to me. He was obviously very upset. Rather than his normal cool, calm demeanor in the vicinity of horses and animals, he shook his arms and indicated I should get down from the horse immediately. I did not want my pony upset by his behaviour, so I calmly rode off at a perfect trot then canter, and took the horse back to his stable. I kept out of dads sight for a good hour or more, busily doing my chores, while giving dad the chance to calm down. Finally I found dad, and asked him to sit down while we discussed what he had seen. I explained to him that the ponies behaviour had been present for well over several months since dad had retrained the pony, but it was nothing for dad to worry about. I explained that I had fine tuned my riding, I had never come off the pony, and that I had actually enjoyed the performance, that I did it as often as I could.

I arranged a time with dad  to show off Johnny Boys best behaviour, I would put the horse through his paces, as if we were competing at a horse event. Dad would judge both the horse and rider, and then pass judgement on this performance.

Needless to say, my father agreed with me. He agreed i was a very competent young rider and that I really did have control over the horse, and unlikely to come to grief.

My father was not to know, I harboured the idea that one day I would ride the bucking horses at the Rodeo’s.

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