To be or not to be? The question that plagued me weeks. Along with, to stay or not to stay? Don’t worry, this was no Romeo-and-Juliet-esqe saga. But rather the story of my beautiful young pony and his testicles. And so the decision was made: they went. He had the chop, lost his manhood.
Now before you start thinking this was in any way a decision hastily made, I gave him long enough to pull himself together. Just over two years to be precise. When I dropped him off to be broken shortly afterwards, I wished him luck and expected to see him home a few months later with a few shows under his belt.
It was mid-March – five months later – before I braved getting on board for the first time. He was definitely not an easy ride but I was thrilled: it was the culmination of a period where anyone and everyone involved in his life persevered with his education much longer than most mentally stable folk would have.
Skip a few months and we tried going to shows. He spun 360 mid-gallop, ran through the line-up, refused to stand anywhere near the line-up – he even tried to make a swift exit from the ring by jumping over the fence! I felt if I didn’t laugh, I would cry.
He turned heads. People asked to use him as a stallion, so I told myself that covering would be Plan B: if I decided to give up, he had an alternative career plan.
Fast forward a few more months, and I brought him home. I dreaded it, but I decided that the best thing would be to spend a year out of a competition, just learning to be a normal pony. He is now bombproof in traffic, jumps for fun, like no other pony I have ever ridden. Except he still occasionally let himself down, badly.
So Milo’s been gelded. Not because he isn’t ‘good enough’, but precisely because he is that good. Gone are the days when it’s only second rate colts that are gelded. For too long now, numbers in ‘Mountain and Moorland’ classes have been dominated by stallions. It’s great that, unlike in many plaited sections, ‘M&M’ stallions can be shown ridden. But that doesn’t mean that you have to have a stallion to be in vogue with the judges. And it doesn’t mean that keeping your pony entire will make it more appealing. In fact, more and more people are choosing to geld – or even choosing geldings – in order to realise their ambitions of reaching the top of the ridden ranks.
In fact, since our Jimmy won the ‘Section C’ ridden class at Horse of the Year Show in 2013 – sorry, I had to get that in there – the coveted top spot has been dominated by geldings – Tonlyn Tigger Two, Ty’r Eos Casanova, Glynwyn The Living Daylight, and this year, Danwood Llewelyn. The latter was gelded for exactly the reason I have gelded Milo, because, according to jockey Hannah, he just couldn’t cope. Now look at him. And let’s be honest, scores of geldings – big and small – have proven that being testosterone isn’t an indication of star quality in the ridden showing world, from Pearly King to Glebedale Mumbo Jumbo and a whole host in between.
I’m aware it was a risk. I’m aware that he may still be the same old Milo. And I’m aware that there is no longer a Plan B. But I’m also aware that I have given it my very best shot to have the best of both worlds: a pony that I can ride and that can eventually cover my mares. So far, it couldn’t have gone more swimmingly: he has settled into his new Sussex home and has been angelic. Sometimes we all have to compromise, and a compromise where I can begin to dream of getting him to the top again is a compromise I can live with.