In a paddock north of Shepparton lives a 19-year-old pony named Sebastian.
Described as a quiet, gentle soul, Sebastian wanders the grounds of the Rae family property in Numurkah.
In the care of Clare Rae, 11, Sebastian shows love toward the young rider.
‘‘We are borrowing him from a family friend to help continue with my training until I find a horse of my own,’’ Clare said.
Keen to master the skills of show jumping and barrel racing, Clare said she enjoyed being able to learn with Sebastian.
‘‘Sebastian is a very quiet pony and he doesn’t do anything naughty so I can focus on my riding skills,’’ she said.
While attending a pony club, Clare and Sebastian spend more than three hours a week training at home or with friends.
Clare said Sebastian loved eating almonds and neighs when she arrived home from school.
‘‘He eats a lot of hay and he doesn’t like to be left alone, so he’ll neigh for attention,’’ she said.
Occasionally showing a cheeky side to his usual calmness, Clare said Sebastian liked to have a roll in the dirt before being harnessed.
Feeling comfortable in the saddle, Clare intends to enter Sebastian in shows across the region.
‘‘Previously I have won ribbons in first, second, fourth and fifth in local shows, but I haven’t had the chance to enter with Sebastian yet,’’ Clare said.
‘‘Sometimes the classes are judged on the pony and sometimes the rider and how the horse is handled.’’
Clare’s mother Tammie Rae said although committing to a pony could be a challenge, riding had given her daughter confidence.
‘‘Because horse riding is a challenge she is able to work toward individual goals and find confidence in other fields,’’ Mrs Rae said.
She said Clare’s riding skills were continually improving.
Hoping to find a pony to call her own, Clare said Sebastian was helping her to become the best rider she could.
‘‘Right now I am learning to not regather my reins and working on my diagonals, but all I can ask for is a pony that loves me and I can make lots of mistakes on,’’ she said.