Are they very small or are we just very far away?
I did this joke about six times during our day out at the Miniature Pony Centre in Moretonhampstead and my son assured me that it didn’t get any funnier.
Oh well. I laughed.
The kids were more interested in getting up close to these quiet, friendly, tolerant animals.
You can hang out in the paddock with about a dozen ponies of all shades and colours, petting to your heart’s content and taking in the pretty views over Dartmoor. It’s bliss for everyone concerned.
There are also donkeys, goats, sheep, shire horses (super-sized ponies) and chickens to get in amongst, as well as plenty of playground action.
The good thing about the set up here is that you can plonk yourself at one of many picnic benches and keep a close eye on the kids as they play around you.
This worked very well for my friend and me. We got to catch up and chat about our holidays while our children, aged between 10 and six, explored the Little Foals play park and rode on the pedal-powered tractors.
Then came the call to announce the start of the gymkhana event in the riding and display area. We all bagged our places and watched as three plucky young volunteers raced against Beatrice the white miniature pony and her handler, Julia, weaving through obstacles and jumping hurdles.
Inspired by all the leaping, the kids decided they wanted to head up to the trampolines before taking it in turns to hurtle down the nearby zipwire.
Us grown-ups also had a cheeky go, just to make sure it wasn’t too scary.
The lovely Willow Garden area proved to be a pleasantly quiet interlude, with lots of insects, birds and flowers to spot, plus a couple of pigs for added entertainment.
We walked around, surrounded by nature for as long as we could before the lure of the indoor soft play become too much to bear for some members of our party (not me).
Luckily – again because of the thoughtful set up here – us adults could sit in the sunny courtyard and still keep an eye on the kids as they flew past on their way to the ball pool etc.
I know you wouldn’t be able to do this with younger children but I’m enjoying those glory years at the moment where my two are old enough (they’re 10 and eight) to go off and play but young enough that they still want to come back and talk to me. I reckon I’ve got about another two or three years before they will prefer not to hang out with their mum and will communicate only by text or Snapchat or whatever.
I did worry that perhaps we had outgrown things like the Miniature Pony Centre (a real hit when they were toddlers) but the kids still all had a great time. What I thought would be a couple of hours out of the house turned into a full-on day trip. It turns out you’re never too big to enjoy small ponies.
By Chrissy Harris