Tonto at Mini Camp

Tonto was the making … and nearly breaking .. of me.

He’d never buck, rear, bite or kick, he was a saint to look after in every way and a dream to handle and 95% of the time he was a dream to ride. But just occasionally he had no brakes. I’ve been used to ponies that were strong, but when Tonto took off, he took it to another level. I was pony mad, and Tonto was my mad pony!

After a particularly terrifying Pony Club cross country, the rally organiser Caroline Bell, whose daughter is now a GB dressage rider, suggested I should take him to Caron Roberts for some lessons. It was my first experience of an amazing coach who’d become incredibly influential for many years to come.

Caron had a totally different, but simple approach. Until now, every time Tonto bolted with me, every instructor or parent within sight would yell instructions at me. Being bolted with is scary enough without being yelled at too. Caron gave me an earpiece to wear, and as soon as Tonto set off, she could calmly and quietly give me instructions to circle him safely until he was back under control.

A relatively small girl versus a third of a ton of pony is never going to be a good match so our relationship had it’s limitations when it came to riding in open places. We didn’t ever find a bit that Tonto would truly respect so cross country was always a bit scary. I was heartbroken when the time came to sell him. He went to a fantastic family in the Beaufort and had the time of his life with their 4 children.