Why this Mom loves Pony Club

Jun 20, 2017 2 Comments by Admin
By Danielle Valiquette
My daughter, Ella, was seven when I broke down and bought her a pony. I knew very little about horses, but I managed to beg a good friend into letting me keep him at her nearby farm. And, though, she was thrilled with me buying a horse so that I could share that part of her life with her and her children, she wasn’t exactly on board with my equine choice. The 12.1 gelding barely passed the vet check; he showed evidence of some serious cribbing and he was at least a decade and a half older than the Kijiji advert stated. But for some reason, I resisted everyone’s gentle but vocal concerns and had the pony delivered to the farm.
Ella was under the impression that the farm owners’ daughter was having a new pony delivered and we were just tagging along. She pouted, hung her head low, and kicked at the gravel on the lane. When prompted why she was so glum, she mumbled something about how unfair it was that her friend was getting yet another pony. In a moment of weakness, I promised her that if a white pony—we were so uneducated we didn’t even know he was a gray—came off the trailer, she could keep this pony for her own.
“Yeah, right Mom”, she said with a rain cloud of gloom over her head.
When a “white” pony did in fact walk off the trailer, it took me ten minutes to convince her that this skinny, knobby-kneed, flea bitten mongrel was all hers. My wedding day, the birth of my three children, and the day we got our ancient man, Snow, will go down as the best days of my life. He may be the best $500 I have ever spent. (Tack included, I might add.)
But he wasn’t exactly stellar from the beginning; he was grossly underweight and had an ulcer in one eye. It turned out he was incredibly head-shy and it felt like I was putting my life on the line every time I put the required ointment in his eye. He needed to be feed four times a day and I traveled back-and-forth from the farm for each meal including leaving work on my lunch break. I was completely and totally overwhelmed.
And, so like many horse moms—I suppose—Ella started lessons, and we both began to learn the fundamentals of riding. Ella on the back of her cherished Snowy and me from the ring-side. And her coaches were great, but we weren’t learning about horses or horsemanship per se.
Snow’s health improved and he and Ella fell madly in love. She spent hours with him, and they were lead line grand champions at a local schooling show. And then, after about the hundredth time my farrier said I should put Ella in Pony Club, I finally listened. Fast forward to today, I have two children in Pony Club and a third who is waiting desperately to be old enough. Ella remains passionate about riding and horsemanship, while my son, Reese, enjoys learning about horses and is gaining much needed confidence, but he seems to be motivated more by the long-lasting friendships he is building.
Me? My favourite part of Pony Club is the young leaders within our club. These older members who are either still in highschool or slightly older, and have been part of the club for years. They are everything a mother could hope for in role models and mentors for one’s children. In fact, when we first joined the club, I wanted to grab Ella’s face and force her to look at these great examples in front of her and yell, “Do you see these great teens? One day be like them!” But I did resist this urge, silently hoping that some of the more mature member’s leadership skills will passively rub off onto my offspring as they too grow into (hopefully) respectful youths.
And then last night at our club’s first mounted meeting of the year, as I organized my daughter’s application for her first level of testing, I heard her squeal in delight, “Emily!”. I turned around to see Ella bound into the open arms of one of our oldest members, “I can’t wait for you to see me ride today!” And there was Ella, gazing up at this fresh-faced youth with complete awe and admiration, much like Ella did at Snow once she realized he was hers. It seems I don’t need to force my kids to notice exactly how awesome this experience is for them. They seem to be getting that all on their own.
Danielle, or Dani, is on contract as the Director of The Canadian Pony Club. Her daughter Ella (10) and son Reese (12) are members of the Blue Mountain Pony Club, while her daughter Camille (4) is desperately waiting for the day she turns six, so that she too can join. Dani is also a member of the Blue Mountain Pony Club Horse Masters division, and hopes to one day do better on a pony club test than her children. She owns Stone House Stables along with her husband, Yves. They are able to do this thanks to relying heavily on advice from their friends at   Pony Club and from Google. They blog about their experiences running a horse farm at www.stonehousestables.ca.
Sadly, Snow is no longer with the Valiquettes, but he is buried on the farm and is still very much cherished.
Danielle Valiquette
dani@daniellevaliquette.com
c 226-668-7374
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2 Responses to “Why this Mom loves Pony Club”

  1. L.. Valiquette says:

    Wonderful article, written from the heart??
    I, as a grandmother close to the family, had the opportunity and the privilege to live this experience first hand.
    That day was quite a milestone in Ella’s journey in the sport of equestrian . Both Mother and daughter have a genuine love for the horses. May they continue to be happy and safe .
    Laurianne Valiquette

  2. Lillian watters says:

    This is a good example of why it is so important for children to interact with animals, be it a horse, cat or dog. The lessons learned are to be respectful and kind to fellow living creatures. Bravo Dani, your children are learning love and respect and PATIENCE!