| Nikki’s New | 10.06.2019 |

I introduced you to Chubby a couple of weeks ago. He came to me via a strange route – which is possibly how many love stories begin…

I had always considered myself a rider for a purpose. Every pony or horse I had ever ridden in the past had been a youngster being “ridden on” for sale, or a competition horse being ridden for fitness, or a show horse being ridden to gain experience, a racehorse in training. I had never thought of myself as a” hacker”, please understand I had never belittled happy hackers or weekend riders, on the contrary, but I never quite understood the work, time and expense they put into riding around the lanes without any obvious purpose?

But things changed for me about 5 years ago – I retired, no fan fares or big announcements, it just happened. It was obvious to me that there was no time for me to have my own personal horse. The horses I loved riding weren’t here anymore and life had changed. I rode the odd one out, but circumstances had the last word – and the logistics of running a busy yard had taken over. Nobody really wanted to muck out, everybody wanted to ride out, so somebody had to do it. I was promoted to chief mucker! Yippee, I’d made it??? For several years that took up every day, 7.30 – 1ish, and being very fastidious and believing “that if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly” it became an obsession. The beds had to be perfect, rolled doorways, yard raked. Blah, blah, blah!

Again, circumstances have recently changed, I don’t muck out every day now – which is fabulous, I think I’ve probably done my quota over the years! It does, however, free me up to do paperwork (not my forte)! In theory I should have time to have my own horse. I have always said if I could choose, I would have bought a section D, a show cob or a Connemara, which I have always longed for. But a small section C arrived, just about 13.2hh and reportedly lame? B’ rode him one Sunday, when she came home – to make sure he was safe for Mum to ride! I’m sure she doesn’t believe I could ride once! This is a constant amusement to me. Any horse that arrives here after he’s been ridden out for the first time I ask “how did he go?” They say something along the lines of “Yeah, he’s your ride Mum, a real gent” i.e. he’s quiet and sensible! for an old girl like you! (If only they knew I used to be able to ride, maybe, not very well… but I did!)

Chubby spends most of his days babysitting the racehorses when they are turned out. He is brilliant and doesn’t get intimidated when they rev up and get carried away – in fact, he can’t actually see the point of galloping around too much. One “zoom” is enough for anyone, so he just watches them and braces himself for when they come hurtling toward him and slam on – demanding another scratch – which he willingly gives as long as they reciprocate the service.

As I mentioned, it has been a while since I rode. I have been riding in wellies, a cast-off skull cap and jeans! I have very little riding kit; in fact, I have none! Jim very generously gave it all away! Of which, recently I have been reminding him of regularly, this is mainly to soften the blow when he sees the credit card bill… I feel a shopping trip is very imminent. New boots, hat, breeches, I still have standards! And poor Chubby, doesn’t even have his own saddle? Given my “gammy” ankle… a Stubben, at least?!

I now understand the purpose of hacking for fun. Perhaps not truly, I still find it quite hard to comprehend and come to accept I am just riding for fun. Anyway , I tell myself, I do have a purpose, I can justify the time taken because I’m exercising the baby sitter, now an important team member, Barley, my labrador is…”portly?” and I’m going that way as well as I don’t muck out every day! The most important thing that I do know is Chubby is safe and he is fun to be with. I love him in the stable – he puts up with all my cuddling and fussing and out riding we both seem to have the same outlook – let’s take our time, enjoy the scenery. Have a “hoolie” every now and then when our old bones allow – and then meander around a bit! He, maybe, has arrived at a very poignant time for me, I find myself lame more than sound at the moment and whilst awaiting (a long wait) a diagnosis seems to be paying for old injuries, most horse related but nevertheless very tedious. Going out for a ride is a brief respite from hobbling around. We are working on, letting the old girl get on from a big bale or the gate!

I know you shouldn’t put so much onto one little pony’s shoulders, especially as he was destined for the skip as well, but maybe Chubby and I can mozzie along together for a few more years. Happy in our little world – non-competitive, no expectations on reaching the higher echelons of competing, not working towards succeeding in our chosen discipline, just content. So, if you see us “bumbling”, give us a wave- we will be succeeding in being very happy hackers!