27 Ophelia

Blog 27 – “Ophelia”

One of the many criteria in being accepted for training with P.K. was that applicants should have a main horse and at least one reserve horse.  The course would be intensive, with three x 4 day sections per year and the expectation of “homework”, the evidence for which, rightly, needed to be shown at each subsequent section.  At the time of application to The School of Légèreté I had just the one (large) horse, Mac. However Noni had a horse Ophelia “Filly”, a 12 year old 14.3hh Arab x Connemara.  

I had known Filly since she was about 4, firstly in the freelance years and her then-owner (Anna) brought her on numerous courses when we opened at Ashen E.C.  
I loved the little mare, full of spunk, very sensitive and well ridden by Anna.  
I knew she was challenging to ride but most especially to manage on the yard, partly because I could see that she was and partly because Anna (who fortunately lived locally) would arrive just before her lesson, drive Filly straight home afterwards, then return to watch other lessons and join in the workshops rather than leave her at Ashen E.C where she feared she might disgrace herself! 
Anna and her husband had plans to emigrate, originally with their dogs and Filly.  Then a daughter made her wonderful but surprising arrival, followed 10 months later by the equally wonderful and surprising arrival of daughter number two!  This delayed their move and meant that they had to change their priorities and made the tough decision that they could not take Filly with them after all. 

Noni and Fred
Anna had enjoyed watching the progression in Noni’s riding over the years, firstly with a gem of a school-master loaned to us in his 30’s “Fred”, then a series of different project ponies on livery or loan and ultimately in us buying and very young, inexpensive, remedial 13.3hh Connemara pony “Smokey”. 
Noni in a Shetland Grand National

Noni and Smokey
Noni took Smokey from being a very nervous pony on to become a Pony Club Teams pony and they had a huge amount of fun and they learned a lot from one another. 

Anna was concerned that Filly’s “issues” would mean it would be difficult to home her responsibly and she asked if we wanted to have her for Noni.  We discussed it at length and wanted the best for Filly, but Noni and Smokey were having an amazing time and she probably had another year, or more like two before she would have out-grown him physically.  However a super home came his way and Noni made the very tough and very mature decision to let him go and to accept Filly in to our lives.

Filly (aka “The Purple Princess”) turned our lives, the life of Mac and the whole yard upside-down.  She was, and remains to this day the most wonderfully demanding little horse that I have ever had the privilege to know. 

Noni loved and rode her well but perhaps they are very too much alike, both are wonderful but lack a “dimmer switch” they only how to express themselves loud and clear, and they never quite shared the bond that Noni had had with Smokey.  Noni is very bright and conscientious and puts 100% of herself into anything important to her.  She always took sole-responsibility for the care of her ponies and Filly.  

Noni as "Alice" in her final year at Primary School
She had missed a lot of primary school and was frequently bed-ridden as a result in cluster headaches when she was 10, she had brain scans and neurological tests and after a few years and with the help of numerous bodyworkers she fought her way back to good health and was a high achiever at secondary school.   

Noni and her band
When it came to A ‘levels she chose to focus on her studies, her social life and singing in a band and felt that if she was to apply herself to this she could no longer give horses the necessary attention she felt they deserved.  This has gone on to pay dividends, now 22, with a job she loves and where she is appreciated, driving a car she bought herself and financially and (for the most-part and as much as anyone can be) emotionally self-sufficient.  
I am often asked whether I am disappointed that she gave up horses, given that she was so talented.  But I’m not, I could not be more proud of my daughter and choices she has made, our children our not “ours” or us, but I can’t help thinking that one day, when the time is right for her maybe she will want to ride again…

Next time "Everything happens for a Reason" published 11th May.

For those searching online for more “instructional” resources than offered in these blogs please make use of my video downloads www.ashenec.co.uk 

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