Welcome to the Pony Palace and the second book in the Pony Friends Forever series. I have loved ponies since I was a little girl and now my daughter Emma loves them too. Though the people in my stories are fictional, all the horses and ponies in this series are real and living at Lessans’ Riding Stables near Saintfield, County Down, where Emma and her pals ride every week.
In Pony Surprise you’ll meet three of my favourite ponies – Skippy, Parsley and Rupert. I hope you enjoy reading their tales of fun, friendship and special surprises. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find your new PFFs – Pony Friends Forever!
Okay, so I know I go too fast from time to time, but the kids love it – I know they do! Our owner, Kate, is cross with me again, though, so I suppose I’ll have to take it easy for a while. She gave me one of her talks last night after all the kids left.
‘Skippy, you know you can’t just go into a canter like that. Some of the children haven’t got full control over a pony like you yet. Slow down and follow instructions, or you won’t be allowed out on any more rides!’
She was brushing my grey coat down and tutting at me at the same time.
‘You’re not a racehorse, Skippy! Gentle walks and trots, that’s all you need to do in the beginners’ ride. Okay?’
She gave me a pat on the shoulder to show that she wasn’t being mean. Kate never likes to leave our stables without letting us know that she’s still our friend. She took one last look at me before she left and I knew she was melting already.
I love it here at the Pony Palace, but I’m a horse – I’m supposed to run like the wind! I don’t need a grown-up to steer me around the arena fifty times a day, and I really don’t like those handlers pulling at my bridle. Just let me get on with it, that’s what I say! Well, I don’t actually say it, obviously. I just whinny and snort a bit and shake my head a lot when I’m not happy.
Saturdays are good though – that’s when Ben comes for his lesson. He knows a thing or two about pushing me into a fast trot. There’s no hanging around with Ben!
‘Come on, girl,’ he always says. ‘Let’s go faster. Faster!’
His mum lets him ride on his own, too. She’s not pushing me and pulling me like some of the other parents, no way! Mrs Corrigan goes up to the Nosebag Café, drinks her coffee and watches and waves through the big window overlooking the arena.
‘Come on, Skippy, let’s show them!’ Ben shouts today at the beginning of our ride. We trot past the other ponies and he screams with delight. We usually manage to get one clear round before Kate shouts out and scolds us both. She’s told Ben that he won’t be allowed back if he doesn’t do as he’s asked, but when Kate’s not looking Ben lowers his head towards my ear and has a good giggle. I saw Kate talking to his mum about it at the end of his last lesson.
‘He needs to listen to what I say, or he’ll fall off and hurt himself. He’s unsettling the other riders too,’ she told Mrs Corrigan.
Ben’s mum didn’t know what to say. She just mumbled something about Ben’s dad not being around and how much he looks forward to his riding lesson and how she doesn’t want to spoil it for him.
‘I understand that,’ Kate answered.‘I’m sorry that things are hard for Ben at the minute. Horses can be really healing for children when they’re going through something difficult, and I’d hate for Ben not to come back. But I have to think of his safety and the safety of the other riders.’
But when his mum tried to talk to him about it, Ben just rolled his eyes and gave me a hug.
‘Grown-ups are always complaining about something, Skippy. That’s why I like you – you understand that I just want to have fun! I wish you were mine, and I could bring you home and ride on you every single day. I wish I could ride off over those big hills and disappear.’
I do too, Ben. But then again, I might miss all my friends here at the Pony Palace. Some of them are grumpy, yes, and some are downright annoying, but they’re still the ponies I wake up with in the mornings and bed down beside at night. Besides, we’re planning a really special event for Rupert which is absolutely TOP SECRET – so I think I’ll just stay exactly where I am for now!
If you enjoyed this first chapter you can purchase the full book on Amazon.co.uk by clicking HERE.
This article was written by blackstaff