Summer The Stolen Pony


1. 1

The Pony Friends: Summer the Stolen Pony

Chapter 1:
The four girls rode in single file down a narrow, rocky path in the woods. Mollie and her bay, new forest pony, Fern, were in front, leading the others. Fern, whose bushy black forelock almost covered her white star, bounced sideways excitably. Mollie sat still and quiet in the saddle, used to Fern’s cheeky antics. She knew that if she shortened her reins just slightly, Fern would use that as a signal to charge off, just like in the pony club games. Mollie twisted around in her saddle to look at her three best friends who were riding behind her.
“We’ve got six whole weeks of summer holidays ahead of us. That means pony camp! I can’t wait!”
“Oh my goodness, I forgot!” exclaimed Becky, “I don’t even know why I bother going. Rocky is so lazy and not built for running around. I thought about staying here and just hacking about!”
Suddenly she was pulled out of the saddle by Rocky who had eyed some grass at the end of the path. Rocky was a lazy, dun, Dartmoor pony who loved nothing more than munching.
“How did you forget about something that amazing? You have to come! It won’t be the same without you,” Jess told her, as her delicate Arabian mare, Summer, picked her way carefully down the bumpy path.
“Yeah, you just need to have some fun,” Lorette replied. Hero, her grey Connemara show pony was struggling to keep his footing.
“I really need to practise my show jumping. I haven’t done any schooling either for months and pony camp starts in two weeks’ time,” Jess said.
“I don’t need to practise anything. All Fern has to do is charge up and down. We won the mounted games championships last year!” Mollie said.
“I need to learn my dressage test for the show that’s a couple of weeks after pony camp although it’s still quite a while away. Hero’s transitions need some work and I need to focus on keeping my lower leg still,” said Lorette.
“Jeeze, guys. I don’t know what all of the fuss is about. I don’t bother but even though we don’t do well, I love Rocky just as much!” Becky said matter-of-factly, patting Rocky’s large neck fondly.
“I know what we should do. On the day before we leave for pony camp, we should bath them all and do one cleaning session so we all look our best!” Jess questioned. She ruled them show jumping but she still wanted to look her best.
“I haven’t done mine in months,” mentioned Becky. She wasn’t one to look smart.
“You really need to start doing your tack more often. Dirty tack can cause so many problems,” Lorette said, agreeing with Jess.
“Hey, look over there. Is someone watching us?” Becky said. As the other girls turned too looked through the trees they saw someone turn around and run off.
“I wonder who it was and what they wanted,” Mollie said.
As the four girls and their ponies reached the bottom of the path, they were all silent, mystified as to who had been watching them. They splashed through the shallow stream and Fern charged through. She let out a squeal of excitement, knowing that they would be galloping when everyone was out of the stream. As soon as her hooves touched the soft wooded path on the other side of the stream, she was off and galloping through the trees. Mollie tried to hold her back and wait for the other girls to get out of the water. Summer, who was usually calm, was pulling against Jess’ hands, making them ache. As Becky eventually pushed a reluctant Rocky out of the water, she signalled to the other girls that she was out. As soon as Jess, Mollie and Lorette loosened their contact on their reins, they were off and galloping, racing. Even Rocky made an effort to keep up for most of the run. The breeze in their faces cooled them down from the hot, humid weather. The girls stood up in their stirrups and lent low over their ponies’ shoulders. All of the ponies’ ears were pricked, showing the girls that they were enjoying themselves as well. As the girls neared the end of the track, Jess, Mollie and Lorette pulled Summer, Fern and Hero up to a walk. They were all smothered with excited sweat. Summer and Hero shook their heads, jangling the bits whilst they waited for Becky. Rocky’s dun head with its faint patch of white emerged slowly. His barrel like body bounced up and down slowly and his saucer like hooves thudded along the ground. He looked quite offended having been expected to canter on such a hot day. As she trundled towards the other girls, Becky flapped her legs to keep Rocky moving as he tried to grab at mouthfuls of grass.
”I don’t know about you lot…” Becky started but stopped to calm her breathing. Her face was bright red and she was breathing as heavily as Rocky.
“But I’m going to eat a massive lunch when we get back. Your mum knows us Jess. She’ll have sandwiches ready by the time we get back,” Becky finished. All of the girls kept their ponies at Jess’ house. It was a nice cottage with a few acres of land, eight stables, a tack room, hay barn, a riding school and a small horse walker. It was nothing posh, but neat and tidy and fulfilled all of their needs.
“Becky! You and your food! You and Rocky are as bad as each other. Always thinking about food,” said Lorette rolling her eyes. Lorette and her Connemara show pony, Hero, were the rulers of the show ring. They won every dressage and showing class they entered. One may even had said that they were unbeatable with Hero’s flashy paces and Lorette’s ability to be effortless in the saddle. Her movements were so small, you wouldn’t even no she was doing them. Jess and Mollie giggled as Becky grunted something about wanting to eat food rather that thinking about it. As the four girls headedhome at a relaxed tail swinging walk, they talked about plans for pony camp. Lorette suggested that the girls all stayed at Jess’ the night before so that they could all get ready together. By the time they arrived back at the farm, the plan was hatched and the ponies had all cooled down. As the girls dismounted, Jess’ mum and little brother came out of the house. Her mum was carrying a plate of sandwiches.
“Here we go girls. Tuna, ham, cheese and chocolate spread sandwiches for you. I’ll put these in the tack room for you.”
“Thanks mum,” Jess said.
“Thanks Mrs Pattinson,” the other girls chorused.
“That’s okay girls” she replied, crossing the yard and disappearing inside the tack room. As she came out, she asked the girls, “Did you have a nice ride? It looks as if these ponies need a wash down and a nice dinner. If you use the hose pipe make sure you put it away properly. We don’t want anyone falling over and hurting themselves now, do we?”
“We had a great ride. We went round to Common Hollow and had a walk through the stream and a canter through the woods. The ponies all loved it. We’ll make sure the yard looks tidy,” Jess told her mum. Mollie nudged Jess, reminding her to ask her mum if they could all sleep over.
“Um, mum? Would it be okay if Mollie, Lorette and Becky slept over here the night before pony camp?” Jess asked.
“Yes, sure it is. Just make sure that it’s okay with your parents first though and make sure that you have everything you need,” she replied, smiling. She was so impressed with how committed the girls were to the ponies.
“YES! Thanks!” the girls yelled.
“Now, stop standing around and sort these ponies out!” she exclaimed.
All of the girls took the ponies bridles off, making sure that the bits didn’t hit their teeth, and put their head collars on them. They tied them to the stable rings and washed the bits. Summer and Hero dozed quietly outside their stables whilst Fern whinnied and chewed her lead rope, wanting her dinner and wanting to go out into her field. Rocky snored heavily as Becky undid his girth and lifted his saddle off of his back. The other girls did the same, putting the saddle covers on and putting the tack into the tack room. Then they headed back out to wash the ponies off. Mollie dug out some mints from her scruffy jodhpurs and Fern snuffled them up, crunching them loudly. Jess got the hose out and rinsed off Summer. Once she had finished she admired her beautiful pony. She shone like freshly minted copper and her muscles rippled beneath her coat.
“Come on, slow coach!” Mollie called over to her. Jess looked over and saw that the other girls were waiting for her. She saw Lorette check every one of Hero’s legs for scratches or bumps. Lorette was very careful when it came to injuries because if Hero was to get a scar, it would ruin his life as a show pony.
“I’m coming, hang on!” Jess said as she pulled the rope loose and jogged over to join her best friends. The girls led the ponies out to the field and let them off. As Mollie slipped the headcollar off of her nose, Fern galloped around the field like a race horse.
“For a small pony, she sure can move,” Mollie told her friends in dis-belief.
Hero stood elegantly with his head raised proudly and watched Fern throw herself around with what looked like disgust. Rocky watched Fern with goggley eyes. He chose a spot, dropped to the ground and rolled vigorously, grunting. With a major effort he heaved himself up and shook, dust flying everywhere. The girls all began to giggle. As soon as the gate was securely click shut, the four girls walked back to the yard. They hung up their head collars and swept the yard, sweeping the rubbish into a pile and putting into the barrow, ready to be emptied. Lorette put the hose away by wrapping it around its base carefully so no-one could fall over it. After making sure that the yard was tidy, the girls made their way to the tack room to eat the sandwiches. Becky grabbed a whole chocolate spread sandwich and shoved it into her mouth, smudging chocolate spread all over her face and clothes. Lorette watched in disgust as she nibbled her ham sandwich gingerly.
“Thi…i…lovey!” Becky mumbled over a mouthful of sandwich. The tack room was the girls favourite place to hang around. They had put old hay bales around the edge to sit down on and had decorated the walls with pony pictures from magazines and of their own ponies. Each girl had their own section in the tack room which held all of their equipment including saddles, bridles, rugs, hats, body protectors, show gear, and a set of draws each holding first aid kits, boots, creams and any other bit and bobs. As a bonus, the tack room had electricity and heating. There was also one washing machine and a tumble dryer to wash their numnah’s, rugs, boots and girths.
“Okay, so apart from preparing for pony camp, has anyone got any other plans for the holidays?” Mollie said. Neither she nor Fern were keen on schooling like Lorette was. Her lightening quick pony was born and bred for pony club mounted games. She flopped down onto one of the bales of straw and pushed her scruffy hair behind her ears. Lorette frowned. Any untidiness bugged her. She was tall and slim with dark brown hair that was always perfect, even after a long ride on a hot day. She always looked immaculate in new expensive riding things.
“Well, if anyone else here wants to do some jumping them we could set up some jumps tomorrow?” Jess asked.
“Count me out. I’d love to but with pony camp coming up I don’t want Hero to get hurt. I would any other time but not this close to camp. Sorry,” Lorette replied apologetically.
“Me too. It sounds like too much hard work. Besides, the jumps you jump, Jess, are like, a metre and there’s no way that Rocky will get over them,” Becky said with a smile. Last year at pony camp, on the final day, they had down the jumping round. Rocky had refused one of the jumps three times and had been more interested in eating the decorative shrubs. He had left the ring with half a tree hanging outside of his mouth. At that moment, Mollie’s phone rang.
“That was dad. He’s waiting outside for us. Come on, Lorette. We’ll give you a lift home. Lets all meet down here at half ten tomorrow,” Mollie said.
“Okay. I’m just going to give Hero an apple,” she replied hastily. All of this talk about pony camp was making her nervous. Pony camps meant to be fun, she told herself as she called Hero over. She knew why she was nervous, because of last year. She had been bullied by some girls who kept calling Hero worthless and ugly. She wouldn’t let them ruin it for her. He cantered over to her and let out a little whinny. She held out her hand with her fingers flat so Hero could eat it. She noticed that her hands were already beginning to shake.

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