Like most of us, come January 1st Diva decided to make a New Year’s Resolution.

And again, like most of us, it involves exercise. Unfortunately, since she is only a little Shetland pony, this resolution also includes me!

Diva absolutely loves going on the horse walker at the yard, despite not being able to see out. She practically trots on the spot if you don’t open the gate fast enough. But she thought she would like to go for a walk where she could actually see something.

Shetland ponies are renowned for their strength, and so when Diva divulged her plans to me, I opted to get reinforcements in the shape of my friend Jill to act as moral support.

The plan was to go for a walk down the lane, and as Diva has not seen traffic before, for safety’s sake I put two lead ropes on her—one for me to lead her from as normal, and a longer one for Jill to hold just in case anything went wrong.

It may seem like overkill, but for me, when out on the roads better safe than sorry. I also wore a hi-viz waistcoat.

Enthusiastic as ever, Diva put her best hoof forward and fairly marched out of the yard gates and down the lane.

In the hour that we were out, we encountered several cars, a large horse being ridden towards us and a number of dog walkers. Diva didn’t turn a hair at any of them, though the big horse was spooked at seeing a little pony heading its way!

All three of us enjoyed our walk, so we repeated it a week later; that time I was happy enough with Diva’s behaviour to just lead her with one rope attached.

It was a little busier than before and she had to contend with two motorbikes, a four-wheel-drive with a flashing orange light and even a pickup truck, which lost a big sheet of plastic just before it got to us and screeched to a halt so the driver could retrieve it.

I have worked on getting Diva to trust me ever since she first arrived, and it has certainly paid off: when confronted with something she is unsure of, Diva tends to lean against me to gain confidence. The only time she needed to lean on me during our walks occurred when we walked under a railway bridge.

Diva seemed fascinated by the structure and practically stood on tiptoes to peer at the underneath. A moment’s hesitation, and still leaning on me, she followed Jill beneath the bridge, clearly puzzled by the echoes of her hoof steps. We are going a little further on our walks each time.

One thing Diva doesn’t know about her New Year’s resolution is that the direction of our walks is gradually heading towards the pub in the next village. Ponies are allowed in beer gardens, aren’t they?


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