The ponies at the stables whereI learned to ride were generally very good. They had their quirks but all were well worked, well fed and contented. Some were a bit strong out on a hack so were either ridden by experienced riders or carried novices on a lead rein.
There was a girls boarding school that rode during the week and it was when I was taking a junior ride on the beach I had a 'interesting' time. All the children were cantering off a lead.
I sent the first rider on a hot little mare, Trixie to go along the beach. Trixie would go from A to B at a fast clip but she knew the ropes and would always stop at the correct point.
I told the kids that if they wanted they could jump the breakwater. Trixies went from 0 to 20 m.p.h. In three strides. She went to the breakwater and very uncharacteristically stopped dead and lowered her head. The rider continued and landed in a stream the other side. Normally the stream wasn't there and the sun was shining on it so she wanted to examine it.
I had already sent the next pony so she did the same, I now had two wet children.
As I went to pick them up leaving the other six walking around in a circle so I heard a yell. Drumbeat had decided it was such a wonderful spring day he would go for a belly deep paddle. The child on top was new and she was terrified and started screeching. One of the other girls jumped off her pony to rescue her friend. Friend seeing rescue coming jumped off Drumbeat and waded to the shore.
Four wet children. The others had stopped circling and before you could blink three of the ponies had got down to roll. The children never had the sense to kick them up or jump off but all fell to the side when they were down.
Seven soaking wet children. None really knew what to do! I caught Drumbeat and told the kid off for jumping off in the water and also told the friend off for rescuing her.
I then told all the kids that if anyone of them cried they would be walking back to the school, about a mile and all uphill!
Not one cried.
A little roan pony Molly was one of the best ever teachers. She could be very naughty with experienced kids but a novice was well looked after.
I had a junior ride in the arena. Seven of them were fine but one much younger girl was a real novice and should have been on a lead but on Molly she would be fine. The lesson had gone well and towards the end the kids were popping a caveletti. Barbara the little rider had trotted over the 'jump' which non of the ponies were really jumping but when I put it up to top height (all of 2') and Barbara wanted to jump it too, I trusted Molly and said she could do so.
Much to my astonishment on her turn Molly cantered towards the jump. I knew that if she actually jumped Barbara would be on the floor.
Barbara was holding a large chunk of mane, her tongue was sticking out to the side of her mouth and her eyes were tightly shut.
Molly cantered to a stride before the jump, slowed to a walk, stepped over the jump and trotted to the end of the arena.
"Well done Barbara - that was jolly good but, why did you have your eyes shut?"
Please Linda, I had my eyes shut because I wouldn't see if I fell off!"