My favourite RDA horse... and how they got that title
|Who is my favourite RDA horse?|
Whether your RDA group owns one (or even none), ten, or twenty, or whether you just happen to know a horse or two, you are likely to have a favourite. Horses offer us the enjoyment of finding a personality that clicks with our own without the complications of human emotions, like jealousy or any sense of injustice over not being your favourite. Horses are also, in many cases, doing a job for us. Certain equine personalities will lend themselves to doing that job (it's different for every stable yard) better than others, making us even more likely to warm to one of our four-hooved friends over another.
Of course, when put on the spot by my riders or volunteers, I often take the easy way out. "Oh no, I couldn't possibly have a favourite! I'm not allowed/the others would get jealous/how could I possibly decide anyway?" There are definitely times when it's helpful to plead neutrality, but when all is said and done I do have a favourite at my group, and I've never explicitly mentioned them (or why they are my favourite) on this blog.
So, this is Candy.
|Candy at Natalie's first Regionals (Photo credit: Darren Woodlow)|
Candy joined our yard about 18 months after I did, in the spring of 2013. She was a gift from a family in a neighbouring county whose daughter was ready to move up to something a bit bigger, was in her mid-to-late teens and had spent the years prior to moving in with us doing just about everything. She was nicely schooled, forward going but not hot, and looking for a new job where she could be useful and well-loved, perhaps without the intensity of her former busy schedule of competitions and Pony Club rallies.
When Candy had settled in, my younger self was trusted with the task of being the first person at our group to ride her. This wasn't a deciding factor in her eventually becoming my favourite RDA pony, but it did give me an opportunity to get to know her quickly. "Quickly" was, at least initially, the operative word, as Candy was a bit of a snappy mover and was initially confused by the idea of bringing the pace down for our RDA riders. She was also quite put out by the idea of being a lead rein pony (not least because leaders had to keep up with her) although was never nasty about it, just a bit stand-offish. But, ultimately, she is an intelligent and well-educated horse and was just as quick to catch on. Now her advancing years have started to slow her down a bit, it's hard to imagine her doing anything else. RDA horses need to be either intelligent or empathic as a baseline, and although Candy doesn't go in for the touchy-feely-overgrown-dog style of equine empathy, I think she understands her important purpose as one of our special steeds.
|Candy and Isobel during our phased reopening this summer: it was hard to believe either had had so much enforced time off|
|Candy and Lucy out for a hack at the end of 2019|