By Eden Pessin
It happened to me. It will happen to a lot of you. I got tall.
Every year, as I grew from smalls to mediums to a 14h large, I knew it was coming.
Then I heard my parents and trainer talking about ponies that “take up a lot of leg”. I was really lucky to find a stunning Welsh x Hanoverian mare to show last year who suited my size when I leased her. But by August, there was someone at every horse show who commented on my height.
They meant it as a compliment (who doesn’t want to be told they have “supermodel legs”), but it made me sad to think I wouldn’t be showing ponies anymore.
When they said, “You need a horse,” I heard, “Get off that pony.”
And my heart broke slowly, until I realized I had to view the changes in my height and riding career as a good thing. When people said I was getting too tall to be riding ponies, they meant I would look better on a horse. I later realized they were right and showing horses was just as much fun as showing ponies.
To ease my way into the idea of showing horses, I started riding more horses around the barn. It made me feel more comfortable with the overall idea of showing and riding a horse. I could stretch up and be tall in my riding. I felt pretty and elegant, as I was no longer trying to twist myself up like a rubber band to fit a pony.
When I had free time at horse shows, I spent time outside PonyLand watching other divisions. I started to get excited about other possibilities. I am very lucky to be friends with Ashley and Kevin from Struck Apparel . They took me under their wing and introduced me to JumperLand. I walked courses in the grand prix ring and set jumps in the warm-up for Kevin. After hanging out with them and learning more about the sport of show jumping, I became more interested in trying a different discipline.
Most difficult to process was that fact that I couldn’t show ponies anymore. The pony ring is so special to me. I sat and watched the ponies go and found myself falling in love with other pony kids. I realized I had just as much fun cheering on a little person rocking the smalls as I did riding one myself. I went to Pony Finals with The Plaid Horse and spent a lot of time ringside. And I realized that I was happy there too.
Just because I don’t show ponies anymore doesn’t mean I can’t ride them. I’m not so tall that I can’t enjoy squishing up from time to time. My trainer and I occasionally work on a project pony together. Sometimes my height helps. My experience always does.
My advice to someone who is outgrowing ponies is this:
Remember that your body might outgrow ponies, but your heart never will. Once ponies are a part of who you are, it will always be that way. Find new ways to love them, find new ways to love yourself, and be a happy rider.
Stay gold, Pony Girl.