Faultless pitch for a pony falls at the last hurdle


A DAD'S LIFE:It’s the first time a costing spreadsheet has been produced in this house to outline expense, and it’s done by the 11 year old.

Livery, she tells me, is an absolute bargain in this part of the world. If we were in Dublin, it would be double the figure she’s included there. Her auntie, she says, has promised her a saddle and whatever spare bits and pieces she has floating around, the rest we could pick up on Done Deal.

She’s good. She sneaks up on me from behind and presents a solution before she comes in with the big request. Almost before she’s ended her pitch, she has me convinced this can only be a good idea.

Something sparks behind my eyes and I realise I have to counter the assault. Otherwise my chequebook will write itself. “Okay, I see you’ve done your homework. Well done on that, you truly are an organised and ambitious creature.

I can only contribute two glaring omissions to the statement you have presented that you may want to go away and ponder. The first is the price of the pony itself. I don’t see that listed. And also, no matter how low the final tally is, and even if you are right in that it is a wonderfully low figure, it still looks bloody huge to me and I’m the one who has to pay it.” Here she plays what I take to be her trump card. “I have written a letter,” she says.

“A letter?” I say. “Well done you. And to whom would this letter be addressed?”

“To a rich man,” she says.

“A rich man?” I say. “That’s nice. And what has you writing to rich people? Oh, and by the way, good luck finding any.”

“Stop repeating everything I say,” she says, “you’re being patronising.”

So I shut up. I wave her on to explain the letter to the rich person. “I will write to a rich man outlining the fate of many abandoned ponies around the country who are taken in by the rescue services. These rescue ponies are free to people who will take good care of them.

“The problem is even taking care of them is expensive, so these ponies are often left neglected. I will tell the rich man that if he will help with the costs, my sister and I will make sure the pony is ridden and fed and loved. And the pony will be used in riding lessons so lots of kids can ride him. And the rich man can come and see the pony whenever he wants.”

By now, I’m dabbing tears from the corner of my eye. At the fate of the poor, little neglected ponies, and also for the death of innocence when nobody replies to the mailshot I can see the elder is ready to post to anyone who earns over 50k a year. “You do realise you’re asking people to pay for a pony that you want?”

“No, I’m going to write to people and give them an opportunity to save a pony.”

I can’t fault her business plan or her marketing programme. Her problem, one I can relate to, is completion.

Over the summer, in a bid to get the two dogs walked without a daily bout of pleading and tears, I suggested combining pocket money with a dog-walking fee. She wanted to know how much. I told her €2. So, that’s €2 per dog for me and the sister? No, that’s €2 per walk, and if you’re sharing the duties with your sister, you’ll have to share the fee. Can’t blame her for trying.

The first thing she did was to calculate how much she could earn walking the dogs, seven days a week, for the two months she had off. Then she figured she could tout the service to everyone in the nearby estate and pick up at least an additional three dogs per walk. The figure grew and grew until she collapsed, exhausted but happy.

I think I wound up paying €32 in total for her services this summer. I don’t expect to see a pony soiling my lawn any time soon. But should a request land on your mat, be gentle in your response.


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