Recently i had the opportunity to work with another little pony that had once been wild, his name was Tussock. I got to know Tussock pretty well over the last few weeks, as did all the kids who came on camp and rode him. Because he turned out to be, one of those ponies that every kid should have, stoic, calm, kind and dependable., traits i have come to realise are quite prevalent among all the horse that come from the wild mountains of the central plateau.
I met Tussocks owner months ago, on a beach ride i did to raise funds for the Kaimanawa horses. She mentioned at the time a horse she would like to have worked, we kept in touch and then just before Christmas Tussock arrived just in time to join in with my last horse riding camp of the year.
He was every inch that old fashioned pony type, stocky, round, soft moving, and intelligent without being hot or fiery. He was however not always the most angelic of all ponies, like any pony worth his grass, tussock had learned a few tricks over the year he used to his advantage. He shoulder barged, or dragged you around a little bit when leading him, and sometimes threatened to charge right over top of you. He also had never cantered with a rider on his back before, no fault of his, but he thought a lovely slow trot or a walk were the only paces that would ever be required of him. I quickly explained to him the new rules around here, you were not allowed to crowed the person leading you, and when a rider squeezed with their legs he had to move forward immediately, even if he didn't want. It took me about ten minutes to teach this, and from then on tussock was the dream child's pony.
By the end of the first week of camp, he was jumping playing games, going on rides around the farm all with a tiny ten year old girl on his back. you know what i think he liked it to, he was always there to be caught in the morning, even though he knew it meant working all day long, He stood for hours being brushed plaited and patted.
I put Tussock on the market on behalf of his owner after this, he needed a home where he could be ridden every day and have kids fuss over him. A couple of people came to see him, but he wasn't 'flash' enough for their children, it doesn't matter how safe they are sometimes, people cant see that a amazing jumping technique and showstopper looks wont help your child if they are already a terrified rider. But it was okay that he didn't sell because i kept using him on camps where he was fantastic and every child loved him.
Finally on the last camp of the holidays, a girl traveled five hours with her mum to come try him over the course of the week. The little girl loved him, absolutely adored him, and so did the mother who couldn't believe how well behaved and safe he was. She just loved to canter tussock around bareback, finding that far less scary than cantering with a saddle on as it turns out. When it was time to go home, there was a very sad goodbye and lots of tears, talking to the mother later the girl cried the whole five hour drive home.
So last Friday, after lots of consultation with the mother, i loaded up tussock, and drove the five hours south. The little girl had no idea he was coming, her mother wanting it to be a surprise, even getting her out of school early so they'd arrive home in time for Tussock to get there. I can tell you that was one happy girl who came running out looking a little surprised when i drove up, before running to look in the float window just to make sure that tussock really was in there.
Sometimes selling horses is a miserable work, trying to match buyers with the right horses, and selling animals you love with no guarantees with what will happen to them after they leave your hands, and no matter how well you produce a horse, your always liable to get the backstabbing and bitching when someone doesn't win everything on a horse they buy off you, your reputation is always on the line,. But in cases like this it makes it all worth it. A super special little pony went to a awesome kid who loved hims, and most importantly parents, who can see what his true worth as a child's pony is. To make it even better he now lives at the most gorgeous equestrian property, with lots of other happy ponies, post and rail fences, beautiful gardens and arena and stable. Tussock is definitely going to be living the dream life with his new owners.
Just another update- got a call from tussocks new owners today, they have been to a show and pony club, bringing home a neckful of ribbons including 3, 1st places, the mother described having tears in her eyes as her daughter and tussock won best combination! they couldn't be happier with him, really this just makes it all worth it for me, I'm so happy to know hes gone on to be so successful and well loved! couldn't ask for more.
Lastly i would like to say thank you to Julie, who gave me the lovely Tussock to work with and sell for her, its always a pleasure to get to work with such nice people and horses, makes my job much easier. Definitely thinking of her and wishing her well, for what shes going through right now.
If anyone is going to the Kaimanawa show, and see a smallish pony the colour of dry tussock grass, please go over and give tussock a hug from me, and introduce yourselves to his lovely new rider and family, who are just the most wonderful people.