THE speed at which the years pass by can be disquieting at times. In the blink of an eye, my eldest granddaughter has grown from a tiny lead rein jockey into a beautifully, poised and talented young lady, hardworking and so very dedicated to her sport.

On the downside, as I have mentioned in the past, now that she is a teenager Bethany is “out of class” on her show pony Paddy, which means that they can no longer compete together at affiliated shows.

Certainly, we all knew that this day would come. In the world of show ponies this is the natural order of things. Every few years children’s ponies are outgrown and moved on to continue their careers with a new family. That’s the way in which it works.

The irony of our situation is that had Bethany been born a week later, for example on January 2 instead of December 26, she and Paddy would still have had another year together in the show ring, as the rider’s age is taken on January 1 of the current year. But rules are rules and so at the beginning of the year Paddy’s advertisement was uploaded online, along with some very nice photographs and a video, to demonstrate his wonderfully correct movement; and then they waited for the phone to ring …and it did… many times.

Trouble was, when it came down to the nitty gritty; when the sale became a reality and was no longer something that was going to happen in the future, at some point, it was actually a lot harder than any of them had imagined; but Paddy has been in our family for over three years.

He made his showing debut under saddle with Bethany and together they have competed successfully at shows all over the country, including the Great Yorkshire, the Highland, the Royal International and the Horse of The Year Show twice.

In the busiest and buzziest of atmospheres, that little ginger pony has never put a foot wrong. Combine that with impeccable stable manners, the sweetest temperament and not to mention a recent photo of them both on Bethany’s Instagram, captioned “my best friend”. How can you put a price on that?

So, following a family conference, it was decided that a change of direction was in order and Paddy’s job description is no longer that of show pony, for he has now joined the ranks of British dressage.

Subsequently, Bethany is now a member of the British Young Riders Dressage Scheme (or BYRDS). An added bonus is that there is no upper age limit, with regard to the height of your pony, providing of course that common sense prevails and the overall picture looks right. So you see being vertically challenged can have its advantages at times. To date the pair have amassed a grand total of 26 points, which I think is quite impressive in just four months and six competitions, and last month they were selected as part of the team to represent the Northern Region, in the 2019 Youth Inter Regional Championships at Keysoe Equestrian Centre.

Over the course of the weekend more than 40 teams competed, consisting of more than 160 riders aged between eight and 25. As for Mr Paddy, he has taken to his new job like a duck to water.

On his first couple of outings, on entering the arena and finding himself on his own, he did appear to be a wee bit confused, shouting to his friends in the collecting ring outside, no doubt wondering why they weren’t joining him.

In the past, he has always been one of many in the competition arena. Nonetheless it hasn’t taken him long to adjust and at the recent championships, despite being only 12.2hh, he and Bethany finished a very credible seventh overall, being the only members from the Northern region in their section to be placed.

So you see, good things very often do come in small parcels.