My First Best Friend

I decided to write this post for the prompt “My First Bestie” over at Kerri Sackville’s blog Life and Other Crises. It just somehow appealed to me, and made me think about my childhood.

Do you think about your childhood very much? I often do these days, now that my own children are grown up, and it’s quite strange some of the things that come to the surface, things that I’ve long forgotten about.

My first best friend

Anyway, I don’t suppose I’m the first or the last to own up to having a pony as my first best friend or “bestie”.

And perhaps it’s why I can be quite happy without human company, content in peaceful solitude for hours on end as a grown up.

As children we lived in the beautiful but deep dark depths of the British countryside, where acres of rolling green fields speckled with the domino colours of dairy cows and sheep as white as snow, came between us and sleep-overs or play dates.

We learnt to amuse ourselves and make up games outdoors because having friends over to play was a rare and significant occasion.

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The empty downs of Wiltshire and the rolling coastal hills of Devon were our playing fields, the places where we roamed as wild as gypsies with our best friends … our ponies. Both my sister and I could ride almost before we could walk.

Pigtails and ponies

My sister and I always had ponies. We were lucky, we were privileged but due to the fact that our parents had terrible rows, we learnt quickly to put our trust and faith in our equine friends, rather than the human race who really seemed a little, well … unpredictable.

Ponies on the other hand didn’t shout. They couldn’t hurt your feelings, and rarely did they hurt you physically unless they trod on your foot or bucked you off. They gave us unconditional love and had kissable muzzles as soft as velvet.

My first bestie was called Robin.

He was 12.2 hands high in horsey terms, and I was five years old. His coat shone a brilliant shade of chestnut, he was stout, had a cropped mane, and five white socks that I washed with a soapy cloth every day until they gleemed brighter than a movie star’s teeth.

Serenades and Mary Poppins

I poured out my secrets to him, and I sang to him, badly as I remember. Tunes from Mary Poppins were belted out at 6am every morning or as soon as I woke up and took him a scoop full of pony feed which he ate from his bucket while I serenaded him in none too dulcet tones.

A Marie Osmond hopeful I was not.

Soon after it was The Beatles’ songs which resonated around the stable walls but I believe Robin’s favourite was Daydream Believer by The Monkeys, a song by Davy Jones, who a few years later would steal my heart and my unrequited love away from Robin.

Cowboys and Indians were we in those sunny fields miles from anywhere, with bales of hay to jump, and flagons of lemonade for me and carrots for Robin on our return to the stables. Best friends, play buddies when the world was still new and waiting to be discovered.

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Robin took me boldly over my first proper show jumps, and well I remember the picture of me in ill fitting riding garb (obviously to be grown into) sitting well back, off balance in a none too experienced pose hanging onto the reins for dear life, as Robin caterpaulted me over a small jump.

Show Jumping and Gymkhanas

As I remember there were many practice jumps when we were probably being encouraged by my father running behind us brandishing what was known as a “Long Tom”, a large lunging whip, for I was destined in his eyes to be a show jumping star. We were lucky to attend many shows and gymkhanas back in the day.

I never really lived up to my Father’s expectations of being an equestrian great, but I have him and my lovely Mum to thank for giving me my first real bestie … A little chestnut pony, long gone now, with the soft velvet muzzle, who listened to my every sung word and gave me some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

I’m hooking up with Kerri Sackville’s series today “My First Bestie” at Life and Other Crises.

I’d love to hear who your first ‘bestie’ was, and why they were special to you.

Until next time,

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Comments

  1. GORGEOUS story. I didn’t have a horse (and broke my arm falling off one!) but I used to read endless books about girls who owned horses and went to gymkanas (whatever they were) and I am SOOO jealous!

    • Thank you Kerri! How kind of you to take the time to pop by and read my linky offering 🙂 oh that’s too bad about your experience with horses. Seems like lots of my readers have had bad experiences with ponies when they were younger, so I count my lucky stars that there were lots of positive times in the mix for me.

  2. Just has this same conversation with my hubby, how funny! I was a Mommy from the time I was a toddler. I had a baby doll that I would push in my stroller. That baby said MaMa when you tipped her over, and I loved her and carried her around for years. I would also let her ride on the back of my dog, as though he were a pony, when I would drag him around as well. I think the three of us Dog ( that was his name… I named him myself!), baby Francis, and me were our own little sub family.

    • That’s a coincidence Mary! Funny how some things just resonate, isn’t it? I loved your tale of your little sub family and can just picture you, Dog and Francis spending many happy hours together 🙂

  3. Lovely post Jo!! I am not a horsey person I’m afraid. My first bestie was a human. And I often think about all the stuff we did together. We lost touch after primary school and only recently got back in touch on Facebook and although we don’t live far apart now neither of us has suggested meeting up – it might be too weird! One day I might get brave enough.

    • Hi Amanda, well it’s nice to hear of someone who’s first bestie was a human (did you read Mrs Woog’s about the snail? Hilarious!) and although it’s sad that you lost touch it can be awkward meeting up again after lots of years apart when so much water has flowed under the bridge. One day, perhaps you might get in touch with her when your own life has slowed down a little. I found when my children were small that there was very little time for anyone or anything that didn’t fit into our hectic daily schedules in some way or another.

  4. I started to learn to ride a horse once, when I was around 20 or 21. All was going fine till we got to “his” homeward straight, and he took off down the paddock and over a fence, then swerved around the shed, at which point I fell off. I was sore for days after. The next weekend I went out there to try again and was terrified to death – I am sure he knew it . I never went back. But I do so love horses, as long as they are on the other side of the fence.
    When I was a child we had a canary in a cage. He sang beautifully. He had fallen out of a tree in our backyard as a baby, so we put him in a cage – poor thing. But he did sing beautifully.

    • Love those two stories Jill – poor you with the runaway horse, it’s no fun not being in control especially when it ends up with a fall. And the canary, at least you gave him a safe life for his songs! We have birds next door that chirrup all day long, I don’t know what they are but their songs are gorgeous.

  5. Thankyou for sharing your story about your Bestie, what a heartwarming story. I’ve always been afraid of horses. I think they’re beautiful animals, even if I prefer to view them from a distance! As you would know, any time I have been brave enough to get on a horse, it knows immediately that there’s a scaredy cat on its back, and plays up accordingly! I can’t even PRETEND I’m not afraid because they can sense it a mile off!….

    • Oh Catherine! I know what you mean though, and in my later years this has happened to me too! I think kids are much more gung ho! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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