Real Rider Stories: Briahna Larkins

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My Superman

He taught me the meaning of true friendship, true love and gave me a lifetime of happiness, he made me the rider I am today and I am forever grateful.

Chandglen Lomond, known to us as Lucky, arrived into our care as a yearling. I had received a phone call from his breeder asking me if I wanted another pony and at that stage we didn’t really need another Shetland, but I felt guilty as he was being neglected where he was. The people who the breeder sold him to had given him a wormer for a 600kg horse; this was when he was only 6 months old. This completely knocked him over and he wasn’t able to stand up for 2-3 days. The owners had also trimmed his feet with a hammer and chisel; this was definitely a pony that needed a new home.

So with all this on my mind I organised to go and “have a look” at him but my husband made me take the float, no prizes for guessing I left home with an empty float and came back with
a pony. When Lucky arrived his name was “Lomond” but we renamed him as we believed he was very lucky to have come home with us.

Lucky was quite the character when we got him and trying to do anything with him was a complete disaster. He had some very naughty habits, for example; he would throw a front foot out at you when you were near him. Needless to say we fixed that pretty quickly. Once his manners were all sorted out my husband broke him in for our daughter, Briahna. Both pony and rider were exactly the same age and their birthdays were a mere 8 days apart.

As Lucky learnt to be ridden, Briahna learnt to ride. In the very early stages there were quite a few tumbles, Lucky seemed to know every trick in the book. He would always quickly whip round in tight circles and Briahna would go sailing off the side. Nothing could stop this
little cowgirl; she would climb straight back into the saddle and continue on where she left off.

When Briahna was big enough to ride off the lead rein she was only 3 years old and had finally out-smarted the little bugger. When he went to whip around she would smack him around the bum and off he would go again. By this stage these two were unstoppable, they could walk trot and even canter everywhere and my husband would even take them up and down our street with the odd truck passing by. Lucky had always been good with traffic, never battered an eyelid whether it is was just a small car or a truck with blaring sirens.

When Lucky and Briahna were 5 years old we took them along to a jackpot rodeo at Batten Park. Both had an absolute ball bombing around, trotting and cantering around with me on my big paint gelding. They just loved going places and trying new things together, they would get out and give anything a go, if there was any chance they could do it, they did.

Not long after this we moved to Christchurch New Zealand for 12 months and had to leave Lucky behind. We bought Briahna a pony over there and brought her back with us to Tasmania. After a few months of being back in Tassie we finally bought a house in Westbury and brought Lucky home again, he was in pretty poor condition and his ribs were sticking out and his manners had gone down the drain. So off we set again on a mission to bring him back to how he was before we left. After around a month he was in pretty good shape and full of energy, you could almost say he was ‘bucking his brands off’. This was when his pony club career began, we joined up with Deloraine District Pony Club and it was from here that we became aware of Lucky’s jumping capabilities.

Luck-1

Due to Lucky being a Shetland pony and only being 10.3hh Briahna was put into the lead rein group, we were not pleased as this didn’t present a challenge for either the pony or riders’ abilities and they really didn’t learn anything at all. After a few months in the group Briahna and Lucky were finally moved up to the next group where they had the chance to learn basic dressage, show jumping and cross country. Lucky was a very free moving pony for a Shetland but would get quite bored with dressage and going round in circles, but it was essential that he learn the basics of dressage as it was good for both pony and rider.
When they graduated to show jumping we noticed that Lucky seemed to make the small jumps look like nothing where as some of the other ponies were jumping them like they were a real challenge. It was after this when they were faced with jumps up to 50-60cm that his true talent began to show, he would get every stride perfect leading up to the jump and clear it without even coming close to knocking it. The higher the jumps were the more he seemed to enjoy it. After several months practice Lucky learnt to trust that anything Briahna aimed him at he would be able to clear; and so he did.
We do remember one particular time when there were two 44 gallon drums lying down with a bar a few centimetres above them, all set up; the instructor led the group over to it and asked who wanted to go, no one spoke up so Briahna said she would give it a go on Lucky. She was informed by the instructor that the pony was too small and would not be able to clear it but Briahna lined him up anyway, she gave Lucky a kick and told him to get up and
sure enough he jumped straight up and over it not even coming close to hitting it. After that they had another few goes at it and Lucky loved every minute of it, his ears pricked up. He was the smallest one in the group by a few hands but was the only pony in the group that jumped it; no one else would even give it a go. This was just one example of how bold Lucky was and that he had complete trust in Briahna and if she wanted him to jump something he would be gutsy enough to just go and do it.

However, with all this being said Lucky was a completely different pony on the cross country course; the best description would be to say that he went ‘bull at a gate’ at all obstacles in his path. Once Briahna had him on the cross country there was no stopping him, literally, all
brakes failed to function. Briahna would just sit tight and enjoy the ride; the big problem with him though was that he was so gutsy he would go for the biggest jump, there was no choice. Briahna absolutely loved him and had a faith in him that allowed her to just jump on and know she could trust him. They were the perfect match for each other; she was one that loved the big jumps and trying new things and he was always willing to give anything a go.

Unfortunately due my husband’s work load we were unable to attend pony club on Sundays as that was his main work day, so this was when we had to change our plans with Lucky. He was to become a show pony; he had done some showing in the past as a youngster but hadn’t been out for a while. His show season began in 2005. We travelled all over Tasmania but didn’t go into Hobart as that was just too far. Lucky didn’t seem to mind all the travelling as he loved going in the float because it meant he was going somewhere and wouldn’t be stuck at home. We were showing him in hand and under saddle, he went to a show nearly every weekend. His favourite part of showing was the bath and pampering beforehand. He really loved water and being shampooed and fussed over, but after his bath he became a different pony, nipping and trying to take off the minute you unclipped him. He was certainly a very cheeky boy and when we locked him in the stable for the night and he couldn’t see another horse he would rear up and sing out and chuck a real hissy fit, which was always very entertaining to watch.

Due to his beautiful markings and great conformation he was rarely beaten in the show ring, there was only one slight problem, showing him in hand. He was the greatest little pony under saddle and always behaved impeccably; he done everything Briahna asked of him and more often than not would beat the adult competitors in all his pinto classes. The problems began the minute you put him in halter classes; at this point he became a completely different pony! His worst performance was after he had been injured and hadn’t been worked in quite a while but we loaded him up anyway and ventured to Campbell Town show. We were expecting him to act up a little bit but not quite like this, Briahna was standing in the line-up with Lucky standing on his hind legs his front legs striking the air; he would then swing around and rear up again. When it came time to do a workout he seemed to be walking fine, only taking the odd nip at Briahna’s arm, all seemed to be going well but as they moved into trot Lucky leapt into the air and gave a big buck then proceeded to trot another few strides and buck again. They finished their workout and lined back up, off he went again rearing up and swinging around (oh boy what a disaster). The movement that the judge had seen in between all his bucks and rears had impressed her and Lucky went on to win the class, he then went on to win Champion and even Supreme but in each class he put on the same performance but was still unbeaten. In the very last class my husband had finished with our other pony in another ring so he took charge of Lucky and needless to say he put on the same performance as in the other classes and was almost dragging my husband all over the ring, this time at a canter but yet again he won.

In the afternoon we put a saddle on him and almost instantaneously he fell asleep, no one could believe it was the same pony, but it was. He went out in the ring as a ridden pony and absolutely cleaned up, winning a couple of champions. He
soon became an endearing favourite with the audience. Lucky’s cheeky nature but at the same time beautiful temperament captured the hearts of many people, having that little bit of “spunk” just made him all the more special.

He went on to complete his show career for us and then we broke him to harness just for a bit of fun with the hope of getting him to a few pony trots in the future. Breaking him to harness was easy in a few weeks we were driving him with no problem at all and he absolutely loved it. Whenever we got out the cart he would get excited and come up to the gate ready to go. He competed at one show while he was in harness and done very well against all the large horses. This finished his show career with us and he was loaned to my best friend who had a little daughter. He taught the little girl to ride and she took him out to shows on the lead rein and done exceptionally well. They had him for around 18 months until we were ready to bring him home again, when he arrived home we put him straight back in the harness as there was a pony trot at Carrick coming up in a month. To practice my husband would ride the bike and pedal as fast as he could down the road and Briahna would trot Lucky alongside. When Lucky wanted to he could be quite the little goer and could easily out trot my husband on the bike. We entered him in the two pony races at Carrick and he came 3rd in both races. For not having a clue what he was meant to be doing this was an awesome effort by both driver and pony.

A few weeks after the pony trot Lucky headed off to his favourite place, Bakers Beach with some of the pony clubbers. If Lucky ever had an obsession, the beach was definitely it, once he was in the water it was a real struggle to get him out. Briahna would hoon him up the beach with her friends all on thoroughbreds and he would give them a real run for their money, he would go flat stick up the beach ears flat back on his head going as fast as his little legs could carry him. Everyone just adored him and thought it was hilarious how he would race against the thoroughbreds thinking he was a big horse too. After he finished his workout on the beach Briahna would take him for a swim and boy did he love that! He would get out to where the big waves were and let them crash over the top of him. When he got out to where he could no longer reach the bottom he would dig his nose under the water and spray it over the horses around him and he thought it was just fabulous!

Sadly the past few years have been a real struggle with Lucky, he had been troubled by persistent stomach issues ever since we got him as a youngster but they had never been a real problem until now. We changed his diet around until we found something that seemed to work, he would get better and better and would get to the stage where he could be ridden again but then all of a sudden without changing anything he would go all the way back to square one again. We called many vets and they all said the same thing, he had founder or laminitis but we knew there was more to it than that as he had never responded to laminitis treatment. Unfortunately due to his age his problems were just catching up with him and there was nothing we could find to help him, no matter what we did he would get a little bit better and then drop off again. We were struggling to keep him healthy; every time we fed him more he would get sick so it was always a battle. It was with a very heavy heart in August 2012 we lost our battle, there was nothing left for us to do he could barely walk and it was upsetting to watch him suffer. It was time, we had to do the right thing, he had been such a brilliant pony for us and we desperately wanted him to remember us for all the good things. He spent the best 14 years of his life with us and he made a lifelong “Best Friend” with my daughter Briahna.

Everyone shed many tears when he went, we would have done anything within our power to save him. Without an autopsy we would never find out what really happened and at that point in time we just didn’t wish to go that way. The vet said he was almost positive that Lucky had an intestinal problem that just couldn’t be fixed. It was sad to see such a special pony go but we don’t regret the decision, it would have been too cruel to have kept him hanging on. So on the 29th of August 2012 everyone said their final goodbyes and he was humanely put to sleep, my daughter and I were the only ones there with him, my daughter bravely stayed with him until he was gone although devastated and upset she knew it had to be done, Lucky didn’t deserve to suffer.

Rest in Peace Lucky, you were too well-loved to ever be forgotten!

“Lucky could have won all the trophies, ribbons and awards in the world but when he won my heart, it was worth more than anything in the world.”

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