It has always been my dream to have a horse of my own although one that has been put to one side many times as for one reason or another, I found myself taking a break from the equestrian world.

The tick list I had made for the ideal horse was that he or she would be around 14.2hh to 15hh a been there, done that type of horse with excellent manners. So, you may ask, how did I end up with Riley my 13.2hh Welsh Section C who was not only green but was also bolshy and had no manners?

The story begins when I was helping a friend with her two cobs. One day she mentioned that she was going to view a pony and asked if I would like to join her. Now I am never one for refusing the opportunity to look at ponies, so I jumped at the chance.

When we arrived, it became apparent that the beautiful 8-year old bay pony in the field was the one we were due to see. I must admit I fell in love right there and then and stood there thinking I would buy him if the lady I was with didn’t. Although the sensible part of me was thinking ‘are you crazy?’, particularly when I found out how green he was and that he hadn’t been ridden much over the past few years. I noticed that when Riley was finally tacked up and walked up, that he bucked when asked to trot. The lady I went with agreed to buy him and it was part relief, part disappointment for me, however I knew I was going to be involved with him at her yard since I was the only one small enough to ride him.
The day he arrived in a trailer, I was there to greet him and he was a beauty. From then onwards I became more and more attached and went to see him every day, although was always a little bit reticent to fall in love with him as I was aware he wasn’t mine and there may be a day when I wouldn’t be part of his life.

Six months later, I was at home when I received a text from the owner asking if I would be interested in buying him as she was going to sell him. My heart was saying yes, although my head was saying he isn’t what you want for your first horse. My heart won as in the end as I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life, so I agreed to buy him. Two weeks later, after the search for a suitable livery, we loaded him into a hired horse box and settled him into his new home. I always imagined that when I bought my first horse we would ride off into the sunset and it would be magical although the reality was far from my perfect scenario. Riley was a challenge and most of the challenges were bad behaviour. He would kick out when his feet were picked up, swing around when putting his rug on and when he was groomed. Riding was also a challenge as not only was he green, he didn’t want to do what was asked and I was often left feeling as though I didn’t know how to ride. There were lots of tears and I questioned myself daily on whether I should have bought him and if I was the right person for him. I felt as though I was letting him down and he needed someone with more skill and confidence. One thing I was sure of was that I loved him, and that he was a very special pony. I reminded myself he hadn’t had the education that a pony of his age would normally have had.

So, there was a learning curve for both of us. Over time and with consistency in handling and a regular daily routine his behaviour changed, and he started to have those manners that I always dreamt of. I began to school him daily and we had lessons together every week. Slowly but surely his behaviour and the riding improved dramatically to the point where he is now used by the owner of the yard where we are based, as an example to anyone who may be having problems with their own horse.

There have been highs and lows along the way however I do know that had I bought a ‘been there, done that’ type of horse I wouldn’t have learnt as much. One thing I am sure of is that I made the right decision to buy him and that I am lucky to have him in my life.

By Sharon Howe. Follow Sharon on instagram @the_mulberry_tree_lifestyle and follow Sharon and Riley’s adventures on her blog

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