Galloping bitless and barefoot

Bonny’s Story

Born 16th February 2002

Bonny can be ridden by all abilities, she is good for heavier riders

When we rescued Bonny with her mum Capri in 2003, she was a big, fat out of control one year old with no manners whatsoever. We were told that her dad was a Belgian draught horse and her big head and stocky body certainly backed that up. Her beautiful chestnut colouring, with long, thick mane adds to the whole wild effect – she really is a character.

Bonny settled into our herd very well, with her mum by her side to give her confidence she was soon one of the gang, and was firmly put in her place if she tried to be too bossy. We discovered that Bonny was born just two weeks after our first foal Leo but was very mature for her age and by the time she was four we decided to start introducing her to a saddle and rider.
It was the first time we had backed a youngster and we were not sure what to expect. All the books said that she would buck when the saddle was on her back, and then she would be nervous about walking forward etc, and not know what to do with her legs, but luckily for us, Bonny had not read the books and from the first day it was as if she had always been ridden. We carefully put the saddle on her back and she acted as if nothing had happened, so we walked her around for a bit, for her to get used to it – still no reaction. Ok, we thought, lets see how she feels about some weight on her back – our daughter Elizabeth carefully laid across the saddle, still no reaction, even when we led her around the paddock, all she cared about was eating grass, she was totally oblivious to anything else. Thinking it was all too good to be true; Elizabeth then carefully sat on the saddle and allowed Bonny to carry on moving around, eating and just wandering wherever she wanted. She was completely happy with the rider on her back and we were ecstatic that this first stage had gone so well.

The next day we did the same thing, but this time leading her mum Capri in front of her, and she happily walked around the edge of the arena on a long lead rope with Elizabeth on her back, following her Mum. She was so completely relaxed that we decided to try a little trot, so we asked Capri to trot and just allowed Bonny to increase her speed if she wanted to. She went into trot beautifully without a buck in sight and seemed to be really enjoying herself; it was as if she was saying ‘look Mum, I can be like you’. Of course the fact that she had had no stress in her life, had not had to suffer the separation from her mum that most youngsters have to endure, or had shoes banged onto her feet or felt a bit in her mouth all must have added to the ease of this transition, but we were so thrilled at how smoothly it had gone.

After a couple more sessions like this we were keen to take Bonny out into the big wide world – after all, we wanted her to be a confident hacking horse, so why not start as we meant go on. With her Mum to follow, Bonny was perfectly happy to go out, and it was so easy to teach her the transitions to trot and canter, we simply asked her Mum to do it and Bonny followed, it was so smooth and easy and within a couple more days we were having the first canter, out on the trail, so easy for Bonny, not having to worry about corners or fences, just a nice straight line, following her Mum. Bonny very quickly became a lovely, useful pony for us to use for our clients, nothing seemed to spook her and she was a pleasure to ride. Her riding career had to go on hold for a while though, when we discovered a few months later that she was pregnant by Leo, (though as she was so young we were planning to turn her away for a year or so anyway so this was fine).

One morning Bonny started to show symptoms of labour and we were very excited that the birth was imminent. Poor Bonny, a few hours later, she was becoming so stressed, rolling and sweating and pawing the ground, but nothing was happening and we decided to call the vet. After an internal inspection the vet informed us that the foal was the wrong way round but that he did not think she was in labour, it was a rare late pregnancy colic. From what we could understand, it was some sort of complication of the pregnancy. He made her as comfortable as he could with pain relief etc and told me that if the foal started to be born I would have to try to turn it and showed me what to do – help! as you can imagine, this was not something I really wanted to have to attempt, but I prepared to spend the night in the stable with her and after a sleepless night things had calmed down and thankfully Bonny was completely fine by the morning. Phew! What a relief! Bonny finally gave birth a few weeks later, perfectly naturally in the middle of the night and we were greeted in the morning by her beautiful little filly, who we named Twiggy as she was a bundle of bones, due to Bonny’s illness. Bonny was not a natural Mum in the first few hours, she really did not want poor little Twiggy to suckle, and kept threatening to kick her every time she tried. Fortunately, by holding one foot up so that she couldn’t kick, we were able to encourage the process along and Bonny soon got the hang of things. She is still a great Mum, and she and Twiggy are inseparable, a real terrible twosome.

Bonny in the middle and her daughter Twiggy on the right