Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was one of those little girls who was seriously keen on horses. My room was covered in wrapping-paper posters, my china pony collection was nearly as large as my library, and my bookshelves groaned under the weight of such titles as (iirc) "Jill and her ponies win every rosette in sight and then gallop off into the sunset" .
There wasn't the money for a pony of my own, but I did have riding lessons for a few years, and then, one day, quite abruptly I woke up and realised that I'd rather go to choir than the yard,- and that was it. All passion spent, just like that!
However, when TeathaimGirl showed symptoms of a similar ailment, we were living in the Cotswolds, prime pony country,- and what's more, her school boasted a farm attached, complete with stables. So for some years I played the part of a Pony Club Mother, though lacking most of the essential skills and credentials (you are truly blessed to have missed the experience of Kathryn Trying To Park a Horse Trailer). By dint of saving all birthday and Christmas money for years and nobly washing up in the local pub from the age of 14, TeathaimGirl managed to raise a sum equivalent to about half a basic pony, and when her grandfather died and left each of the children a sum of money that was designed to make dreams happen now, rather than representing a sensible contribution towards first car or flat, there was no doubt how she would spend hers. And so Sam came into our life,- an elderly Arab horse who loved jumping when in the mood but at other times was quite prepared to screech to a halt, depositing his rider in an undignified heap at his feet. During one week of Pony Club Camp, this happened so often that she won an award for the most stylish falls.
We were all fond of Sam, but he was definitely high maintenance , and the combination of first public exams for L plus ordination training beginning for me meant that we needed to find a less demanding animal....A stressful summer of near sales, near purchases and every shade of drama in between came to an end when Sam went to a riding centre in Somerset, to be replaced by Truffle and (by now LoudBoy was keen to spend his "Grandpa money") Nipper,- whom we were assured were easy-care, drip-dry ponies.
Nipper is the sort of little round pony that Thelwell loved to draw....short on legs, huge on character. She has looked after her boy for 5 years now, teaching him as much about independence as riding. Together they've taken part in Pony Club events (Nipper even won a cup for "The Most Up and Coming Pony") and played gymkhana games. They've headed off for long rides through the countryside, and I've relaxed knowing that in any crisis Nipper has at least as much common sense as her rider, and will ensure that he comes to no harm. She has been the little pony that my child-self dreamed of, and a loved and valued member of the family.
But times change.
TeaThaimGirl is off to college, leaving Truffle behind her, and to be honest, LoudBoy's feet could have touched the ground from Nipper's saddle for a while now. She really does need a new home, and today a family visited, and are borrowing her on 4 weeks trial.
Nobody told me that it would feel so confusing. I really want her to find a family to love and enjoy her,- and this sounds nearly perfect, so I'm hoping and hoping it works out. But part of me doesn't want to see her leave at all,-for it's one more sign that the children are growing up at the speed of light, and I'm not sure I'm ready.
On reflection, perhaps I never will be,- but it's clearly going to happen anyway, and Nipper's departure is just one more sign of the times. So I will invite prayer, if its not too frivolous, that this new family takes to her, and she to them. She deserves a really good home, even if I do feel as disloyal as if I were selling my aunty!