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  • Writer's pictureVic

Story time: My Journey with Zarry

So, sometimes a little guy comes into your life and changes everything. Horses definitely have a way of changing you and I don't think anyone has had as much on an impact on my life as this little hairy creature!

Yep, this was him on day one!

It's 2016 and I get a message from a friend saying that a friend of hers has gone to see two ponies who are being sold from the field... they're nice but not for her, so would I be interested? One is only 12hh but the other is about 13.2hh and only 4 years old so could be a quick summer project? She says "I know you hate chestnuts, and apparently its part Arab, but come on its only 20 minutes away, lets look?". She wasn't wrong, I've never liked chestnuts, or arab horses (sorry!), and only had the photo above to go by... so I was sceptical to say the least, but couldn't see the harm in going to look. Off we went to a farm in the Surrey countryside to meet him!

So we go into this field and a little pony (dartmoor possibly?) was all over us like a rash... Zarry (or Tsar/Tsaravich as he was called) could not have been less keen. He was quite timid, nervy and flighty. They asked if I wanted to see him move and so chased him around the field a bit... he wasn't a fan but he was very speedy! After that he was even less keen on making friends, so I just stood with my hand out... eventually he came over and gave it a sniff. It was lovely. Sounds so silly but it was one of those very special moments that I really remember, and I immediately thought... yep, we'll get on.

Arrival home!

So to the benefit of this not being the longest blog ever, about a week later he came home. During my lunch break at work we went to get him, just about got him on the trailer and home! It was the middle of November so a few very cold and dark days passed where we did a little bonding but I'd convinced myself I wouldn't back him until the new year as it was silly to back a young horse in winter... sooo obviously I got bored and within a short amount of time I started backing him with the help of my friend.

He was a weird one to back, quite tricky and distrusting but very quick to learn. The long-reining took the longest, he just couldn't do it, it took me weeks! But we got there and did lots of firsts (below!). The first time I sat on him, he was a good boy but barely holding it together. The first hack where I got on him in the middle of the woods and he was amazing! The first clip was a dodgy one, he wasn't a fan. He started hacking so well, would go up the roads, walk, trot and canter around the woods... go mad if there was a puddle... but seriously, a very brave and clever boy. I was pretty besotted.

First lunge - first ride - first clip - first competition

Now though, unsurprisingly if you know us, the true moment of realisation that this was the pony for me was when we jumped for the first time. Oh my gosh. I have never sat on a pony who was so natural with it. He didn't even think... his legs came up in a perfect pair of matching high knees and it was wonderful. From that moment, I knew he wasn't going anywhere. He was the pony I had dreamed of having as a kid... just about 10 years too late!

His first time ever jumping under saddle. Yes. Really. He was that good first time.

So, in an effort to keep this shorter than the whole Harry Potter series... quick fire things about us:

1. We both suck at dressage. Me, because I was taught by SJ-ers and find it boring, Zarry finds it hard. Therefore, its not a strong point. We're now getting there (under the @attlefordequestrian tutelage)

2. Zarry REALLY struggles with balance in canter and often drops disunited... we've spent a huge amount of time, money, effort etc on it and are finally getting somewhere after 3 years!

3. We did 2 competitions in 2017 but started competing properly in 2018 (little SJ and arena eventing mainly), did two UA BE80 track in 2018 and started our first BE season in 2019.

4. He's quite tricky to ride, very sensitive but also a bit cocky, sometimes worried, annoyingly particular about life... generally a bit of a pain!

5. However, he's also super easy! No vices, hacks brilliantly, can have loads of fun!

That brings us (leaving a lot out!) to now. Its just been our 3 year anniversary together and its been the most wonderful 3 years. This year, we did our first BE80 in March, followed by stepping up to BE90 in May, completing 4 events with the final being our first double clear (line of pics below!). We have never finished without time-faults (I really need to buy a watch?!) because I've only ever wanted to build confidence but times are a-changing for 2020 with goals and aims in the pipeline.

My only goal has ever been to go to Badminton Grassroots. Its a lofty goal, but I truly believe that this kid can get there. He is the most fantastic XC horse I have ever ridden and that's the biggest goal I can think of, and whats life without a big aim?!

But aside from that, I really just love hanging out with him. He's helped me through every aspect of life, taught me a lot about riding but a huge amount about myself. Through losing a job, struggling in life, happiness and sadness... he has been a constant and taught me to deal with those situations better than any doctor or therapist has! I really feel lucky to have found this little diamond in the rough, I know we still have a lot to work on and Badders might be 10 years away but I just don't care! In the mean time we can gallop about the woods, break more of my bones and run out of phone storage because of how many pictures I have of him. If nothing else though, I enjoy every day that I'm lucky enough to have him and will continue to do so for as long as I am able to!

I always thought my dream horse would be big, beautiful and expensive. Instead it was a cheap, very little, pony who tries his hardest and looks after me every time that I ask him to. He's a total nightmare but wonderful and perfect to me! Happy Anniversary kid!

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