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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Horses I've loved: Chubby

Technically, Chubby was my second pony.  Pippi was my first pony, but we had him when I was 8 and then a long gap until Chubby came along when I was 11.

Pepe was not that tall but I was very short.

Anyway we had Pippi for a little while when we lived out in the wheatbelt but a return to Perth saw us go back to riding lessons for a few more years.  Then mum bought me Chubby.  He was three, newly broken in, and no pony for an inexperienced owner or family.  I can still remember mum saying, "Are you sure? He might be too much for you," but he was grey and beautiful to my eyes,  and oh I wanted him!

This was taken soon after getting him home. It was not long after then that he broke my arm, when I was riding him bareback to show my grandparents and he shied at wind in the bamboo and I slipped off and used my arm to save myself.  Oops!  Not a very good way to make my non-horsey grandies feel better about me riding horses!

He was quite the firey young fellow at times.  Still, we got on together, muddling along.  We took him to pony club, but had no float of our own, so if we didn't hitch a lift or hire one, I had to ride to get there, and I got nervous at times and used to lead him.  Mind you, these days no-one would even think of letting an eleven year old ride miles along the side of busy roads, but in those days it was a different time.

We'd been told his proper name was Chibasco so that was his show name. I never knew what it meant but on googling it just now, it might have actually been chubasco, which is Spanish for a storm or hurricane.  Quite apt really!  He might have been named for a racehorse of the same name though.  We were told he was a stock-horse that didn't grow, and at 13.1hh he really was more horse-like than pony-like.   

At pony club itself we did ok.  He liked to jump and we won some ribbons in that and in hacking at novice level.  I don't remember doing games (what we used to call novelties) with him.

You can see from his neck shape and attitude that he was no lazy pony.  Heh, I seem to remember that in that second photo I began a hacking class with a saddle blanket but it slid out half way through and flew off.  Saddle fit wasn't the science it is these days!

After a while mum put him at a full agistment place quite lot further away from home.  I had to ride my bike there halfway through the week if I wanted to visit him, and then she would take me up on weekends.  That bike ride seemed like a hundred miles, but I did it!

For a while, Chubby got out of hand as they were feeding him way too much for the amount of exercise he was getting. Between that and our inexperience, things didn't go well.  I was leading him out of a yard one day when he rushed past me and kicked up his heels and got me in the ribs, and off to hospital I went again.  This is why they say, "Green on green makes black and blue." It's not a myth!

After that I lost my nerve a bit and so mum sent him off to a horse-breaker for some retraining.  We were told he was not a bad pony, just a bossy one, and I reckon you can see that in this photo.  That is one knowing eye!

We were fine after he came back with his manners restored. We were advised to cut his feed, and I began to really enjoy him.  We rode many miles in the bush, often bareback, with me pretending to be a scout, or Harry Butler the naturalist.  Many a dead grass tree was knocked over in the search for interesting wildlife in the base while Chubby patiently waited. Then I'd have to find a rock or log to get back on with. I was never much good as a vaulter!

After that we moved to a place with acreage and of course Chubby came along. We extended our range and rode even further together. My sis and I got pretty feral around then. Barefoot and wild, we were. Poor mum would try to get us to wear helmets, and we'd ride off in them, then hang them on the first tree out of sight and pick them up on the way back.

Jenny says she remembers getting up one morning and looking out of the window, to see me riding Chubby bareback and halterless, cantering in the paddock, and him coming to a sudden stop in a corner and me flying off, my coat flapping.  (I had this black corduroy coat that had belonged to a grown up before I snaffled it. It was huge and soft and I loved that coat to death. I wore it whenever I could, all winter.  I'd still be wearing it today except that it mysteriously disappeared. Mum says it wasn't her but I do wonder.  She hated it as much as I loved it.)  Anyway I must have looked rather like someone from a vampire movie, enveloped by my vast, black, flapping coat, as I flew headfirst over the head of my pony that morning and it has stayed in her mind ever since. I can't remember it at all.  I fell off a lot in those days!      

My stepdad of the time would buy horses he felt sorry for when he saw them at the saleyards, if they were on the way for meat.  Some were duds and there for a reason but a few were really nice. Duchess was one of those. A very tall, unusual grey for a Standardbred, she was the gentlest horse.  Jen didn't have her own pony yet, so she would sometimes ride Chubby while I rode Duchy. She was a very quiet mare, but she must have been a good racehorse once, because if you got her going on a trail she'd barrel along in a pace like a steam train, snorting with every step.

I think I must have had to climb her leg to get on!  The thongs (flip flops) on our feet were there because the sand would be too hot to walk on when you got off!  Eventually Duchess was given to some farming people my stepdad knew, where she turned pink in the red sand of the wheatbelt, and Jenny got her first pony, a cheeky rascal we leased, called Coffee.  Coffee had every trick in the book, but Jen was a match for him.  Every school holiday we could, we went off to riding camps with our ponies.  I still remember them as some of the happiest times of my childhood.

That's Coffee and Jen in the foreground.  I always smile to think of the time he took a sudden ninety degree turn and flung her off, and she was too determined to let go of the reins and swung round in a perfect circle in the air until she hit a post of the hitching rail. I think she got her first nose bump then, though she's gained plenty more since! (Quite the adventurer, my sister.)  It wasn't funny then, but very indicative of both of their determined natures and something I still admire in Jen today. :)

At some point, Mono came into my life, and I had a pony and a horse for a little while. Spoilt, I know!  We broke Chubby into harness and he was a great harness pony with his amazing extended trot and forward attitude.  I can't find any pictures of that, though I know I had some. 

He was eventually sold and I lost track of him.  I hope he went on to a good life. We certainly had a good time together for quite a few years.  It's sad that you grow out of ponies.   



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