Wednesday, 25 June 2008

In memory of Irish Colleen

Irish Colleen.
Happy Endings

Colleen was a gift that passed through life like Lassie in the films. Every time a child needed help there she was with her show and pony club diary pointing out favourite events with a little chestnut hoof.
She should be remembered not only for all her amazing achievements but also for the fact that anyone who knew her smiled. She brought happiness to so many children’s lives and pride to many mother’s hearts. She carried children round like they were her own, setting them down only to show their humans all the prizes Colleen and they had collected on the magic carpet of competition. That being Colleen’s own prefered vehicle.

When we first met Coll it was in April 2003 and she came to Trallwm farm due to family tragedy.She came in immediately and I just knew as she did her catwalk down the ramp whom she was going to be loved by next.
Little Naomi loaned a Shetland pony from us but she needed really a pony now that her knees didn’t touch the floor on but could still be a security blanket. We had to bully the poor child a bit because her chin and lip were set in defiance at this HUGE 14.1hh pony we were asking her to risk her life on. We threw her on board under the misapprehension that she could try her for a bit,knowing full well that Colleen was perfect for her and anyway Colleen had her toothbrush packed ready to go home with Naomi .

The day after “Coll” went home Naomi rode her three times. She was obviously well schooled and happy to be ridden, but did look “elderly”. The family groomed her & massaged her every day & she enjoyed home grown haylage & some hard feed. She filled out, muscled up and started to glow. A few weeks the pair went to their first show together. It was the Llandeilo and district show and they entered in all sorts of classes. To Naomi’s surprise they got placed in almost all of them. But in the first class Colleen won the Pony Club Pony Championship and she deserved it. She was excellent all day Naiomi received more rosettes on one day than Naomi had done in the last year! Naomi never had a pony like that before. and wasn’t going to give her back now!

Colleen very quickly established her place as matriarch of the little herd. She liked things done her way & in the right order. Once she had rubber mats fitted in her stable – she made it very clear that she did not approve of such “new fangled” stuff so went back to her straw bed. Try as we might we could never get her to eat hard feed at breakfast time because she insisted that she should go out at once, rain or shine.

The family were so surprised that such a good quality pony was given to an animal sanctuary they decided to trace her old owners back to the time when she was only fifteen years young! After a long wait they received loads of information and photos of her from Val Johnson, who told them they used to call her Collywobbles. They found out that she had been placed at Ponies UK in 1995 (7th in the show hunter type) and also had a foal (in 1985) who looked identical to her. All anyone knew about her owners prior to Trallwm Farm was that they were going through difficult times Luckily Coll was given to Trallwm Farm instead of the sales, as Colleen the national treasure could well have been lost to a meat lorry.

It was clear that Coll had been fantastically well schooled & so Naomis mum suggested trying some Prelim dressage tests with her. The results were astounding and they got placed every time! They competed in the Pony Club Area Dressage and were placed 3rd. They also took part in the area show jumping. Novice level dressage and were astonished to qualify for the national dressage championships at thier first competition at that level! In veteran classes that Colleen won easily as most of the other entrants were merely half her age! You see the big secret was that Coll was 32 yrs old when she came to Trallwm Farm On several occasions the judge & steward found it very difficult to accept how old she was.No one had told Colls to grow old gracefully although in everything she did she was very simply gracefull and the best was yet to come

The Dressage Championships of Great Britain.

The Dressage championships are a wonderful but daunting experience for any rider lucky enough to get there. They are held at the David Broome Event Centre where there were great facilities that Coll enjoyed the luxury of. The whole family and friends went for the big event. Irish Colleen got very over excited and had to be lunged so she could let off some steam.The family were convinced Coll believed these shows were set up especially for her. The first afternoon was the warm up competition and Novice 21. The result was better than thier average percentage but still Naomi didn’t get excited as it was only a practise competition and just qualifying for the Novice competition was an achievment in itself . The first day was Novice 24 and by that time Coll had settled down into her surroundings and started working. The big day came and Naomi was racked with nerves but Coll knew what she had to do and the team went really well. By the time the third day came Coll was tired but kept going.
The family were happy to have the chance to attend the event and got ready to go home. Naomi went to the secretarys tent to collect her score.
She was shocked to discover Colleen and herself had won the junior section !
By Easter 2004 it was obvious knees would be dragging on floors again and it was time for Colls to stop giving so much so Colls decided to take on another child who was then 6 yrs old. Martha being Naomis sister was a perfect charge for Colleen. She didn’t have to leave her home and friends but could continue lifting a child and soaring away on the magic carpet.
Time passed and the new team of Colleen and Martha started a new collection of Rosettes . Colleen found something else she enjoyed , endurance rides! Being only six dad Paul led the pair round but declared “never again” as Colleen got rather “excited” over the six miles and dad couldn’t go the pace. Martha was exhausted too as Colleen jogged the whole route. Colleens last show was a local one and Martha happily attached all her winning rosettes to the much loved ponies bridle. The following week Colleen let them know that she suddenly wasn’t well. She had lost her balance and no matter what the vet tried it didn’t work.

Colleen didn’t mind at all,in fact she still demanded to stick rigidly to her daily routine. The family gave her all the love they could and when it was time for Coll to come in at night ,she simply went to sleep in a new place.In a beautiful peaceful wood where the family can still sit and talk to her.where future generations will hear about the best pony there ever was. Coll knew it was time to go and she didn’t mind at all.In fact she gave a gift to another pony. She gave the children the best education they could have had in order to teach a younger pony.
Alfie is another Trallwm Farm pony who was in desperate need af a loving child to compete him.Coll taught Martha all she needs to know too get Silver (as Alfie is now called ) on that magic carpet called competion.
Who knows he may even win the pony club cup that is in memory of Coll. It is for the pony who gives most to a child.

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