Nicki, a 13.3hh Highland x TB (with a bit of Welsh somewhere back!) was bought for Caroline's 11th birthday. She was the first pony we had owned and she was with us for almost 7 years until she died of Grass Sickness in May 2002.
Up till then, we had both been having regular riding lessons but nothing could have prepared for the state of shock that enveloped me for the first six months after her arrival. My instructor's last words as we set out on the 'pony trail' that day were ' Don't come back with a mare'. These words came to haunt me many times during the next few years as we slowly learned to deal with the feisty madam that had come into our lives.
Nicki was responsible for all my loss of confidence that I had been slowly acquiring in my build up to 'pony mum'. She started as she meant to go on by spraining Caroline's fingers within the first few hours of her arrival as she barged her along the path to the field. Her 'wall of death' impressions in the Indoor School became famous, especially on wild, windy days. Her first few solo hacks were mainly spent going nowhere as she planted her hooves very firmly in the ground, refusing to budge and her refusal to jump the first fence in any competition was legendary.
However, gradually we learned a lot about each other, and although she was never my 'ideal' mount, I loved her regardless and I watched with envy as she became Caroline's best friend and partner - their bond was tangible for all to see.