IN THE SADDLE
Lizzie Bergman Peck, a founder member of Chipping Pony Club recalls her happy years with the club, when the sun always shone – apart from one occasion when lightning struck
There’s a sepia tone to my memories of being a founder member of Chipping Pony Club. Even the name of the field where our rallies were held back in 1977 – Captain Alston’s Tenement – seems to come from a different age and time.
I was about 15 when we moved to Chipping and thrilled to be invited to join what was then Chipping Pony Society. It was founded by Molly Lord, a lovely lady who’d been a land girl in World War II. She lived in a mobile home, on one of the roads into the village, with her old bay horse called Roger and a collie constantly at her side.
A few months later, Chipping Pony Society became Chipping Pony Club when the necessary steps were taken to affiliate it to the British Horse Society. Alan Kay took up the helm as the rather grandly named District Commissioner or DC.
Unlike the action-packed schedule of today’s Pony Club, there was just an occasional rally in the school holidays. Me and my two sisters would scrub our usually rather scruffy ponies into shape and hack the two miles from home to join a handful of local children for a riding lesson.
In my memory, the sun was always shining apart from one memorable occasion when dramatic events overtook a summer rally at Captain Alston’s Tenement.
A sultry and stormy summer afternoon, I remember the sound of the thunder rolling around the hills as we trotted and cantered round the field in our various groups.
Then came a massive clap of thunder and a flash of bright light which illuminated everything with a startling intensity. Suddenly, terrified ponies were leaping about in fright and most children fell off.
As the rain came down in torrents, I realised that lightning had come extremely close to striking the field where we were all riding. This point was emphasised when we hacked home and saw a cow lying dead in a nearby field. It had been hit by lightning.
Fortunately, and perhaps miraculously, none of the children were hurt but I remember that our treasurer, Tom Holden, who’d been leaning against a metal cattle wagon at the time, had minor burns on his legs. And apparently, Molly Lord’s hearing aid was never the same again.
Dramas aside, I have nothing but happy memories of Chipping Pony Club and was delighted that my two children, Amelia and Joe, now 22 and 24, were also able to enjoy being members when they were younger.
Fresh air, ponies and making the most of childhood days – what more could you ask for?
If you are interested in joining, please contact Chipping’s District Commissioner Joanne Conlon 01200 445143 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org