Charlotte, in Year 12, has written about the endurance events she takes part in with her very unusual pony, Ted
No horse is born bad, and luckily for Ted, my mum chose him rather than a hat, but that’s another story. We first laid eyes on him one cold blustery September morning, a muddy brown, hairy pony who was wanted by no one and had dodged death twice. We had driven the horsebox over to Stockton to pick him up and, when we saw how terrified of people he was, our hearts sank. But, since we had driven all the way there, we were not going to leave empty-handed. We were his last chance. Almost two hours and several snapped lunge lines later, we finally caught him.
Calling him petrified would be an understatement. He would press himself against the fence on the far side of the paddock the moment anyone opened the front door, and when we finally managed to get him into a stable, he would climb the walls for fear of being trapped. It took over a year for him to take any treat offered to him from your hand, and even then, he couldn’t bear any human contact.
Over the past three years Ted and I have had many ups and downs. I still have the scars on my back from when he panicked and dragged my along the drive by the reins, but they can in no way compare to the mental scarring inflicted on him by the cruel individuals who made him the way he is. We will never find out Ted’s true past, but are so glad we can help to give him a happy and secure future with us.
My bedroom is now overflowing with the trophies, cups, platters and rosettes that he and I have won over the past 2 years, taking part in endurance rides up and down the country. Most lately we achieved a 2nd place in the Young Riders under the age of 25, winning the award for best barefoot horse in North and East Yorkshire, and placing 8th in the top 10 Pleasure Riders in North and East Yorkshire. We travel some great distances just to reach the start point of many of the events – the longest being four and a half hours for the Equilibrium Lindum Spirit, one of the biggest endurance events of the year, held in Market Rasen, Lincoln – and sometimes stay away at a venue for up to a week. He gets the luxury of the racehorse accommodation, whilst I clean out the horsebox to use as a bedroom!
Although I have to be careful as not to put my best saddle on him ( if I ever fell off, I’d never see him or the saddle again!), we have to make sure he has comfortable fitting equipment as any injury, lameness or even quickened heart beat brings elimination from the event. The competitive events are strictly vetted with, each horse’s heart rate being carefully monitored by a vet at each vet gate (these are at set intervals along the route of longer endurance rides such as 80km upwards). Ted competes “barefoot” as opposed to being “shod”. Having a horse barefoot is not always possible, as they have to have very strong feet, but we haven’t managed to get a farrier near his feet yet in order to put shoes on him!
Ted really is one in a million, and we wouldn’t be without him, his cheek is beginning to come out in his personality, which is very good to see. Although I spend hours and hours in his company, we still can’t catch him! I have been told by a horse whisperer that, although he has totally shut down and turned his back on humans, he does like his new family and the reason he won’t be caught now is that he’s frightened of losing his new home! I feel so privileged to one of the few people Ted has come to trust, and he and I are really looking forward to the new season and would hope maybe one day to make it onto the Young Rider Squad and represent Great Britain.
If you’re interested in Endurance riding and would like to find out some more about it, visit the Endurance GB website at www.endurancegb.com