The Pony Who Made Me

The Pony Who Made Me

I was about 10 years old and sitting on a little grey ball of fluff roaring my eyes out and telling my Dad that I wanted to quit.

I was 11 years old and I had fallen off three times and knocked myself out off a tree in Norton's cross country course in Bunclody.

I was 12 years old and chasing June down the main Carlow - Wexford road after she jumped a cattle grid.

I was 13 years old crying in the mart in Baltinglass because I was too big and had to sell my pony.

The stories of June and her antics are never ending - and I love telling them. Don’t even ask me about the chicken feed story - it will forever haunt me!  

She was sassy, full of herself, kind, brave and a rogue all rolled into one. She was a force of nature, an unstoppable force that left an indelible mark on everyone she encountered and had huge confidence in her own ability. However, she had a kind heart and a brave spirit that would not be denied.

June arrived into my life as my second pony - my first being too big and hardy for me! She came from a very experienced family in Callan, Co. Kilkenny and had already completed a lot before coming to live with us. I adored her from the moment I saw her - but she had other plans for me.

She was a 12.2hh ball of energy, and she never missed an opportunity to show me just how powerful she was. We had so many adventures together, and I fell off that pony more times than I would even care to remember.

Yet, despite the scrapes and bruises, I wouldn’t change a single second of it.

She made me the rider I am today.  She taught me resilience, determination, and the importance of never giving up. On the days I felt like I couldn't go on, she was there to remind me that I could.

I owe her so much, and I will always cherish the memories we made together.

When the time came for June to move on, she was bought by a good friend of my mine's father; the promise was made that if she was ever to be sold, he would give me first refusal. Over the years I saw her move around to loan families, compete in MANY games competitions, compete in Dublin and have a few foals for good measure.

Then, out of the blue on a sunny Friday evening I received a phone call to say she was being retired and would I like her?! The answer was always going to be yes.

I asked if I could get her Monday because I needed to sort a few things first. Little did I know Padraig was planning a surprise. That evening, as I was in my parent's house and Padraig was at rugby training, he had organised for his Dad to collect June and bring her home. When the phone call came, I danced and cried around the kitchen!

She had lived an amazing life, making many kids happy and hardy along the way but she was mine again and she was home.

The fun was beginning again and this time round, I had Fionn to be part of it. One of my proudest moments was being able to compete with Fionn and June in our local show - The Tullow show, in a lead rein class. We used Padraig’s coat from his communion and my saddle I that originally had with June. Many happy tears were shed that day as my entire family came out to see them strut their stuff. The picture takes pride of place in my house.

She continued to keep the horses here company. Taught Fionn how to have patience with a horse and quickly became Polidam’s best friend. They shared feed, hay and stables but she was the boss - 12.2hh or not, she ruled over that 17hh TB with force! She took no nonsense from Annabelle and minded AJ as if she was one of her own foals.

Then on 09/02/2023 - at the ripe old age of 37, June left us for her grass patch in the sky. It was very quick and she didn’t suffer. Polidam was by her side every second. She was tough to the end and I am grateful that she didn’t suffer a long illness. There is a huge 12.2hh shaped hole left in our family.

Though it was heartbreaking to see her go, I will forever feel privileged and proud that I got to be part of her world.
Muireann O Toole Brennan

Muireann O Toole Brennan

Head of Media and co founder at Equitas. I currently have four horses and compete three. 2024 is going to be a big season!
Carlow, Ireland