The good old days
All kids rode in a snaffle because usually that is what your parent [mother] had in their day and they had survived so you had to – D ring, eggbutt, or loose ring. If your pony was a shit and you had a kind parent or one with money, you might be allowed a kimblewick or Pelham. Double bits were for adults out hunting or show ponies only.
Rubber reins were coveted – hunting a pony with shaving foam sweat on his neck meant plain reins were as useful as cooked noodles. Plaited leather reins were just as bad and ripped between your fingers.
Leather girths were coveted just as much – choices were string or the white candlewick girths which would split at inappropriate moments.
Coloured browbands were naff – the plastic ones for riding schools and the velvet ones for show ponies. Brass was for heavy horses.
There were four types of rug – canvas NZ, jute, wool with a coloured edging and initials for best and a sweat rug with holes. Then there were the blankets, usually nasty and itchy unless you were rich and could afford a Witney blanket, Every NZ rug hung to one side within five minutes of your pony being turned out.
There were four types of clip – trace, blanket, hunter or full. No one asked what type of clip suited their pony, ponies were clipped to suit the level of work they were doing.
No one wanted a coloured hairy, it usually meant your parents knew nothing and had bought your pony from the local riding school and no one wanted a riding school pony.
Everyone plaited to go hunting.
The number of fences you jumped out hunting and stayed in the saddle was far more important than if you saw a fox.
Ponies lived out in just a NZ rug, even if clipped, nothing up their necks.
Feed was natural – oats, barley, wheat, sugar beet and bran then came in pony nuts which were great for rattling in the bottom of a bucket and a country mix with yummy locust beans.
You made your own chop and warmed the molasses on the Rayburn.
You thought you were a nutritionist if you added garlic to your pony’s feed.
Tesco own brand vegetable cooking oil was added to feeds to give a shine to the coat.
If you went hunting, chances are your pony had a warm mash with a bottle of Guinness and a raw egg mixed into it for a pick me up. Chances are that you had the dried up remains of whatever your family had at lunchtime.
Linseed was boiled and fed to everything to make the coat shine.
Grooming by torchlight was a skill.
Baling twine was a Godsend
Your pony probably knew all the top 20 hits.
Everyone entered the yearly WH Smith Win A Pony competition.
If your pony went lame, the farrier was called before the vet and usually cured pony.
No one’s pony had ulcers.
We all knew someone who knew someone whose pony had had colic but none of us actually had that pony.
Fat ponies lived on thin air and no one said how cruel because there was no grass in their paddock.
Boiled spud peelings and other veggie peelings were added to feeds as a treat.
Wormers came in powder form – most ponies knew when it was added to their feed and left the feed uneaten and themselves unwormed. It was considered the norm to mix the wormer into a paste, spread in a jam sandwich and feed it to your pony.
Bread was not considered bad for your pony or even odd to feed your pony.
Winning at your local show in front of your school friends gave you rock star status until the next show.
Hacking to a show was considered normal. Sometimes your parents would leave a trailer at a show with your grooming kit, picnic and a picnic for your pony because your pony would not load so you hacked anyway. 😉 You turned out your pony to the best of your abilities – always plaited with clean tack. Tack was always correct, if you used a curb chain on a Pelham/double then you also had a lip strap.
Coloured nylon tack was laughed at and considered townie.
Plain leather with just a stable rubber under your saddle or a plain numnah meant you knew your stuff – coloured numnahs, reins, etc meant you were a townie or came from a riding school.
Stockholm tar was brushed into the bottom of the hoof and across the frog every night.
Everyone had gone to school with purple spray stains on their fingers.
When the white wound powder finally came in black, we got excited.
All buckets were black and ridged until the rubber allegedly indestructible feed bowls came out – also in black.
A bright yellow builder’s bucket meant my pony snorted and stood as far away from it as possible and meant I had to walk to the end of the field in the hissing rain to catch him.
Long leather boots were added to every Christmas list – rubber ones never shone as much.
Christmas lists always consisted of things for the pony – bridle, bit, rug, etc.
We didn’t wear hats and back protectors hadn’t been invented.
We went out riding without a phone and couldn’t tell anyone where we were going as chances are, we didn’t know ourselves, we were just going out riding.
As long as we were back for mealtimes and before it was dark, our parents didn’t worry.
Ponies knew their way home if you parted company.