Childhood memories. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 06:05 AM Thread Starter
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Childhood memories.

My maternal grand mother always said I inherited my love of horses from her grandfather who was a carter back in the 1820s. Doesn't really matter as I had a deep affection for them and dreams of being an Olympic rider from an early age.

The only contact I had with Horses was when the rag and bone man came around with his horse and cart. The mare was a big bay with a white face, part Shire and as patient as they can be. She pulled the cart up and down the hills as her owner called out ”Any old rags and bones?"
People brought out ragged clothing and scrap metal to receive a few pence or if we children brought it out we were handed some sweets or a lollipop.
Growing up immediately after the war things were tight and nowadays recycling is all the rage, back then nothing went to waste
I don't know why but Mr Grant would always sit me up on the broad back of the mare. I would hold the hames loving every moment of it. No other children were allowed to sit on her so I was very privileged.

Friends of my parents, Aunty Gay and Uncle Smithy, had had marriage problems and Mummy had taken Gay and her daughter Sally in so they had a roof over their heads. Sally was a big sister to me. The marriage was sorted and they moved to the mainland. Mum, my younger sister, also Sally, and I would go and stay with them. Big Sally had a Welsh pony, Snowball, Uncle had a TB - the biggest horse in the world to me, Tiber. He was actually only 15.3.

We would go ride Snowball in the orchard always bareback. He was a fiery little so and so possibly because Sally and I would sneak him buckets of oats. Mostly we were doubled up, she was always in front and me behind.
I cannot recall a particular time but I know that we were frequently bucked off, run away with, dragged off by the low branches of the fruit trees or, the most painful, thrown into the gate or hedge when Snowball galloping straight towards the fence line, swerving at the last moment whilst we went straight ahead. I usually had a better landing because having been on the back I would land on Sally squashing her further into the brambles and thorns.

I do remember the two of us sitting in the bath in the evening admiring each other's bruises and scratches. It was never any good going indoors complaining to out mothers as there would be no sympathy.

When I was about seven I started proper lessons at a riding school across the Island, Mr Pocock. I went with two friends. First pony I rode was Fifi. On arriving the next week I was told that Fifi had died and I was put on an old grey called Wizard. The third week I was told Wizard had died. I really began to think that I had jinxed the poor animals.
The two friends parents that took turns to take us there were not happy sonthose lessons stopped. Later in the local paper here was a report that he had been closed and fined for cruelty. He was pretty ignorant of equine matters. Those animals had no access to water, he thought they could get enough from the grass.

So Riding stopped. There was a much nearer riding school but that was expensive. Begging and pleading, asking for riding money for birthday and Christmas, my parents eventually agreed to me starting there.
This was my break through into the equestrian world.

Last edited by Foxhunter; 07-14-2019 at 07:22 AM.
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post #2 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 09:08 AM
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post #3 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 10:45 AM
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Foxhunter, so glad to see you do this! I have loved your stories for so long!

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

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post #4 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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The two girls I had been to Pococks stables with had several months start on me at the new riding school - their parents were rich compared to mine!

I was surprised when I saw the stables, they were nothing much at all. Three loose boxes and the others tied up in the pony shed, two rows of them, one half under cover, the other open to the elements.

The place was owned by a Miss Fleming and her partner Mr Trumble - both seemed ancient to me. I was on a novice ride accompanied by Miss Fleming. The pony I was allowed was Pixie, a 13.2 part Exmoor. For the first time ever I was shown how to mount correctly.
We went out up over the Downs, I thought I was doing very well but Miss Fleming, at the back of the ride would be shouting out orders of "Heels down on Pixie." or, "Shorten your reins on Pixie." It was endless. Her voice would resonate all around and I just wished I wasn't riding a pony called Pixie.

Back at the stables it was lunch time so they were all untacked, had their saddle patches brushed off and given a feed. I was allowed to help feed and then told I was to young to stay so to go home.

I worked it out that the bus fare was four pence each way. If I walked the three miles home and the three miles there, in four weeks I would have enough for an extra ride. I was only allowed to rode every other week and the time seemed to drag so slowly and then the hour riding go so fast. My birthday was soon and if everyone gave me money I could get a course of twelve lessons.

I was way to young to work but, running errands to the shops usually brought a monetary reward. All this went into my riding pot. Later, when the summer holidays started I knew I could get more helping to clear the beach of any litter and with lunch find some pop bottles and collect the deposit charged onnthem. There was always the added chance of finding coins in the sand.

So, with birthday and Christmas money I was able to ride most weeks. I would arrive as early as I dared and loiter as long as I could after each ride. The day came when I wasn't sent home and stayed all day until the ponies were ridden bareback out to the fields. The pride I felt when I was allowed to join them and ride Molly to the furthest field. My experiences on Snowball stood me in good stead and I was perfectly comfortable without a saddle.

Last edited by Foxhunter; 07-14-2019 at 01:01 PM.
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post #5 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Riding became routine. I spent all the time I could at the stables. We all worked our hearts out. Soon, on a Saturday I was getting to the fields early to catch and bring the horses in for their work, then on a Sunday, which was their day off, a group of us would go out and bring some of the ponies in from the Down fields to the home paddocks so the girls working there didn't have so many to bring in.

in the winter we would, tide allowing rode on the beach. By this time I had been promoted front the beginners ride to Miss Fleming's 9.20 ride. There were no lead reins on this rode and we could get more canters.
This particular Saturday eight of us rode down to the beach. The stables were on a ridge well above the town. We would rode down to the Old Village and then down a tarmac path to the beach.
At the time some of the ponies had been pony racing in the summer so were fairly keen to go. Miss Fleming was always particular over what horse she rode. She didn't like anything that was to lazy or to hot. This particular Saturday she was riding Faro, Mr Trumble's hunter. Being an Anglo Arab and very fit, he was inclined to spook a lot and known to put in the odd buck or three.
We all groaned when we saw her pull him out, we knew that this was going to be a slow ride.

We got down onto the beach, the tide was well out, the sand flat and inviting for a good canter but, just as we thought, we had to stay in single file behind her and trot serpentines and then, with her in the centre and is all in a line, do a 'wheelie' as she did a turn on the forehand. We all vied to be on the outside so we could get a bit of a canter. When we reached the end of the beach we were lined up to play 'Simon Says.' I begged to be Simon and was allowed to issue the orders.
"Simon says, touch your right toe with your left hand."
"Get off."
So it went on all very boring. We all knew the game and no one was making a mistake. I had a thought about how to liven it up and said, "Simon says, gather up your reins."
"Simon says, feet in your stirrups."
"Simon says, gallop!"
So we did. Flat out along the sands only to find that none of us could stop. We went over the stones, up a slipway around a sharp corner up the path onto the road.
Even then the ponies wouldn't stop, we raced along the road, down through the Old Village finally stopping up the hill by the Cottage Hospital.
It was only then did we realise that Faro was with us, minus Miss Fleming.
The ponies were breathing hard and we were flushed from both excitement and fear. A discussion was held over going back for Miss Fleming or back to the stables. We decided on the latter as we might get to have a jump in the arena.

We didn't exactly tell the truth over what had happened but we were told to put the ponies away. We thought Mr Trumble would drive down to pick Miss Fleming up but he just muttered and said the walk would do her good.

Nothing was ever said about this venture but the next week I had been promoted to riding with Mr Trumble.
One summer Saturday I was told I wasn't riding until the afternoon ride instead of the 10.30. It was explained to me that there was a special task I was to do.
Lunchtime Mrs Trumble and another lady appeared and took me outside to apply makeup to my face. Mr Trumble explained that the Rotary Club he was a member of, had a bet on with the RAF over whether they could or couldn't break into the radar station on top of the Downs.
My task was to be run away with and to fall off outside of the gates and pretend to be unconscious. I was then made to lie on the ground and remain totally floppy as they lifted me up. I passed muster and off on the rode we went.

I was riding a pretty pony Trixie. She was one that Pony Raced and was always inclined to go from A to B at a fast pace but she always stopped where she should. We went on a normal ride along past the Radar Station trotting and cantering and then we turned back towards home. I was told to go off, I kicked Trixie and off she went. We were alongside the road and she scooted round the corner before the gates like it wasn't there. I quit my stirrups, wondered how I was going to bail out as I hadn't been told. I hit the ground running before 'falling' and rolling. Trixie continued her way home and I lay there.
Mr Trumble rode up and asked the gateman to call an ambulance. A couple of RAF men came out and they carried me into the gatehouse laying me on a table. I remained floppy the whole time, my eyes closed.

Soon I heard the bell pf an ambulance arriving (way before they had sirens) The ambulance backed in toe open gates and the door burst open with a dozen men making machine gun noises whilst pointing sticks at the RAF men.

There were cries of "That's not fair! We would never open the gates if there was a real war."

The local Rotary members thought it was all fair game. They had been trying for a month to break in but always the Alsations, kept leashed for the duration of the bet, had always found them out.

I haven't a clue as to what the final outcome was but I do know that I was charged for the ride!

Last edited by Foxhunter; 07-14-2019 at 01:28 PM.
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post #6 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 03:18 PM
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Demand a refund! Well, if there's anyone left to refund.

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post #7 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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No, they have been long passed!
Miss Fleming was in her 80s when she died some 40 years ago. Mr Trumble a few years later and he too was in his 80s.
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post #8 of 583 Old 02-27-2017, 04:59 PM
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Ha ha--I am loving these stories. Your being charged for the ride you did to help them win the bet sounds like what happened to my daughter and me. We survived an airplane crash and I called and said I thought we shouldn't have to pay since the airplane crashed. They said the airplane got us to our destination and we survived, so they refused to let us off from paying.
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post #9 of 583 Old 02-28-2017, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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* That autumn I was allowed to enter the Pony Club one day event. I was going to be riding Molly. Molly knew all about teaching children.

I learned the dressage test until I knew it backwards. This was not an easy test as there were counter canters, turns on the forehand and haunches, extended trots and anything else they thought they would throw in.

Miss Fleming set up a dressage arena marking it with poles at the corners and one pole either of the long sides. The letter markers were pinned to the poles. We practised, several times. It was really just to prove that we all knew the test rather than how to do the movements.

The grand day arrived, we rode to Perreton Farm where the PC had many of their events.
My tum came and Miss Fleming issued the order of "Ride right to the markers."

I entered the arena at a jog trot. Molly wasn't going to do anything more. I wasn't allowed to carry a stick and she knew it. Halted at X, bowed and jogged on. At C I turned left and the judge blew the car horn. This was a signal that I had gone wrong, but I hadn't so I continued on my merry way. The hooter kept hooting and I kept ignoring.
Molly and I continued with our jog through all the movements from walk to canter. The forehand/haunches turns were just very tight circles. The hotting had stopped about halfway through the test.
Finally we jogged up the centre line and halted, I saluted and the judge got out of her car. She was smiling as she walked towards me and kindly said, "My dear, you have gone terribly wrong."
I looked at her and burst into tears "I haven't." I sobbed.
She went on to explain that I was meant to stay inside the poles not rode to where the markers were, set back from the poles.

I had only been doing as Miss Fleming had told me - riding to the markers.

The good thing was that I did get some marks for entry and a couple of movements on the centre line. Even better was that I wasn't last!

We had walked the cross country course and I was so looking forward to it.

Miss Fleming was Jump judging so the two girls who worked at the stables took us over the practise jump which was a short pole carried in the back of the Bedford van and held by two volunteers.

I set off on the CC, Molly, knowing I had a whip was willing to go. Miss Fleming was at jump five or six, a drop fence with a ditch on the landing side. On approaching it she started to yell instructions, "Shorten your reins, sit up, legs LEGS LEGS!" we cleared it and I heard her booming out, "Well done my dear, give her a pat."

After the CC I tied Molly to the picket line tomwait for the show jumping. I went across to the catering tent next to the secretary and overhead a woman complaining of a lady shouting instructions to her riders at fence six. Dr Howie Wood. The District Comissioner for our branch, just replied. "Madam, go back there and watch, you will see that she helps every rider." That was Miss Fleming, always fair!

End of the day I wasn't placed but we rode home tired but happy. To this day I think I am the only person who has ever done a dressage rest outside the arena

Last edited by Foxhunter; 07-14-2019 at 01:30 PM.
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post #10 of 583 Old 02-28-2017, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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*It had been very wet and that winter I had enough money saved to pay for my first day out hunting. The Meet was not far from the stables. Again I was meant to be riding Molly but she had pulled a shoe so, instead I was on Pixie.

Back then jodhpurs were made from Cavalry Twill a mostly wool mix. They were baggy and although warm in winter they were very itchy. Children wore tweed jackets and short boots.
So, the big day arrived. I plaited Pixie, they might well have resembled footballs but they were mostly hidden under his thick winter coat. I brushed him as clean as I could, it had been dry overnight so mud was removeable.

We walked and trotted the two miles to the Meet, held on this occasion at a farm just outside of the town. Mr Trumble looked resplendent in his hunting red and mounted on his hunter, Valdora Jane. The Meet was a hive of activity, people handing around food, small bite sized sausage rolls and sandwiches, mince pies and fruit cake. Adults were handed glasses of mulled wine or port. Hounds were milling around the huntsmen and quick to gather up any dropped goodies or even trying to help themselves from the trays people were carrying.

I had read and reread the Pony Club book on the laws of hunting. Mr Trumble had drummed into us to turn our ponies to face hounds and not tomallow them to kick. We knew about keeping a distance between you and the horse in front and most importantly, to stay behind the Field Master who on this occasion was him. Children were also expected to stay to the back of the field except when there was a gate to open and then they were to be quick to open it for everyone else.

Pixie, along with many other horses and ponies was shaking and sweating with excitement. Finally afternwhat seemed an eternity, the Huntsman blew his horn and he, the whips and hounds rode out the drive and down the road. Hounds and Hunt staff went into a field whilst the rest of us followed Mr Trumble down a farm track.

Pixie was being very strong and kept tarring his head down. My reins were slippery from his sweat and my hands kept sliding down the reins.
We all stopped when Mr Trumble went to open a gate at the end of the track. Before I knew it Pixie, always a good games pony was weaving his way through the other horses and as Mr Trumble was dragging the gate open he jumped it and took off with me across an open field and into a copse at the end where hounds were casting.

I was frightened of being in so much trouble and scratched from low braches. I didn't know what to do. Tears blurred my eyes and I really thought that I would be banned from hunting for life.

Hounds started to speak and I heard someone hollering the far side of the copse. Not knowing where I was, or the way out of the copse, imface Pixie's head into a large oak tree so he couldn't take off with me again.
I was so ashamed I waited until it was quiet and rode back out the copse. I seemed to be in a different field to the one I had been carted across and I quietly rode to a gate.
This was an old wooden gate tied up with bailer twine. I dismounted to open it. Pixie was trying to get away but I held on for dear life. The mus was halfway to my knees and I could feel my boots filling up. I managed to get the gate open and closed, Pixie was messing around so much that I couldn't get on again so I led him across the next field which led into the farm yard. Another gate, slightly easier to open but leading into the cow yard which was even deeper in liquid cow muck.
Eventually I got back onto the road and mounted Pixie. I sat on him for hours waiting for someone to come. Eventually Mrs Howie Wood, the Drs wife drove along and stopped. She was so nice that the tears flowed again. She assured me that everything would be OK and it was probably best if I rode back to the stables.
I did this and as I was nearly at the field leading to the stables, so I npmet Miss Fleming going out with her 11.30 ride. I had been out for all of thirty minutes from the Meet including the twenty minute hack home!

I was never banned from hunting, in fact, people were very kind about the whole incident, remarking on how well I had jumped the gate. (As of I had had a choice!) I do not know how long it was before I hunted again and when I did it was on a pony that had brakes.

Last edited by Foxhunter; 07-14-2019 at 01:33 PM.
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