Our first herd member was Pippi, the amazing Houdini, eating machine, bucking bronco sweet heart that is a hell of a package at 11.2 hands high. Anyone who has met him loves him.
We had no horses, we had no intention of getting horses. My daughter was having riding lessons down the road and I rode my neighbour’s horse once in a while. A friend messaged me to say she knew a pony that was for sale next door to her and thought it would be good for my daughter. Hang on, I wasn’t looking for a horse. I don’t even think my daughter had ever asked for a horse.
I showed the photo to my neighbour and knowledgable horsey friend, Debbie, and somehow we came to the conclusion we would buy him and share him (for my daughter and her grandson). So we forked out the massive cost of $100 each and brought him home. I know, a $200 pony, you could probably write the rest of the story from here!
The story was……Pippi was about 5 years old, shetland X, broken in but had a shoulder injury when he was younger. He was rested for 12 months. We treated him as very green and started from the ground up.
After a lot of ground work and letting him settle in, I hopped on to practice walking and steering. Well he decided he didn’t want to go left so he dropped his head and started bucking. Now I don’t mean pig rooting. I mean rodeo bucking. Four bucks and I was on the ground with a broken tailbone. Took me 4 months before I could sit on a horse again. Thanks Pippi!
Time for some help. Jayne Lavender to the rescue. Jayne worked with us to help Pippi. He is a complicated fellow with a complicated past.
Jayne helped us immensely with Pippi and soon my 8 year old daughter, Rachel, was riding him. Walk, trot, canter. His main trick was to bolt, only at a walk but it was fast and it was towards food. His stomach was his number one priority, and still is. Rachel wasn’t strong enough to pull him up so she perfected the emergency dismount very effectively. Once he bolted under a tree branch which threw Rachel on the ground. Well there was a nice bit of grass on the other side!
PHOTO: Rachel and her friend out trail riding with the their ponies.
After a year of pretty good riding, Rachel hopped on to warm him up but at the same time my mare Magic was calling him to come and join her. The bucking began. I’m not sure how many bucks it took to get her off, maybe half a dozen. We were surprised, we thought we had solved that. We decided he must be sore and got some body work done on him. For months he was going well. Until………..
One day Rachel was riding him with a friend in the arena and she thinks perhaps he got a little spook from the dog and then the saddle slipped a little. The bucking began and he did 15 consecutive bucks before he unseated Rachel. Again, let me remind you they weren’t pig roots, he goes for gold!
Again, more body work, more help from Jayne. Soon it was a whole year since any bucking and we thought is was all behind us. He was going so well Rachel decided to take him to Pony Club. She was practicing with him in the arena and asked for the canter, as she had many times before, and before we could blink he did an almighty hand stand and Rachel was catapulted across the arena. We ended up in ED to make sure Rachel was ok. Just her confidence was damaged.
We decided Pony Club would not be for Pippi.
Photo taken by Kingsley Klau (Photo Coffee)
So now what? We had worked hard with him for three years. With his exceptional ground work manners it was decided he might do well at Riding for Disabled. Sure enough, he was a lead line star. For two years he worked at RDA and never put a foot wrong. Ok except when he broke out of his yard, got into the emu food and had to be drenched!
After two years we decided he needed a break so he came home permanently. However, we just didn’t find the time for him.
I reluctantly advertised him as a free lease lead line pony but was adamant he would only go to the perfect home. I found it. Or perhaps I should say it found us. Pippi is now leased to Armoin, a 400 acre piece of paradise near Williams. He is used as a therapy pony for clinics where he takes his client through obstacles or walks down to the river, all lead line. I think he has found his slice of heaven. If ever circumstances change for him, he will come back to us.
Pippi has been (and still is) a major part of our horsemanship journey. I wish he could speak to us and tell us what is going on when he gets upset. Pippi will always hold a special place in our hearts and we can’t wait to go visit him again soon.
(featured image taken by Jayne Lavender)