The Roar of the Crowd

The Roar of the Crowd

Pony Hunter Event 1918

In 1918 my father entered my horse, Elsie, and I into a riding event at the Sea Lake show. It was reported in the Guardian as, "Our Day of Glory":

Ken Brydon's performance as an eight year old at the 1928 Sea Lake Show caused spectators to rise to their feet and cheer lustily while Show stewards dug into their pockets to award him a special cash prize.

His father, Mr Charles Brydon, entered Ken's pony Elsie, in two events at the Sea Lake Show - Pony under 14 hands and Pony Hunter. They left their Waitchie South home on Show Day with Mr Brydon driving a half-draught in the buggy, and Ken riding the pony for the 18 mile journey. Being accustomed to Goulburn Valley Shows which started at 10.00am, the Brydons arrived too early for the Sea Lake Show which began at 1.00pm. However, when the time came for Ken to ride Elsie into the ring for her pony class, her stay was short and she was turned out without a prize. Father and son were disappointed. Elsie had never been placed further down than second at all the best Goulburn Valley Shows before the family moved to the Mallee. Mr Brydon remarked that the winner had such a bad ring-bone in its fetlock that it had very little action and the second prize winner was almost as bad.

When Ken rode for the Pony Hunter Contest a steward approached him and said he would not be in the event as all the other competitors were men and they were riding much bigger horses. Another steward inspected his entry ticket tied to the horse's bridle and said, "He is entered for the pony hunter". Yet another suggested he be permitted to take part in the event because, "He will fall off and create a bit of fun".

So Ken was instructed to do two laps of the hurdles. "When I rode the first hurdle there was silence and a small cheer when we negotiated it successfully. The crowd cheered louder after each hurdle," Ken Brydon said. He was later told that even the sideshow operators left their stalls to see what the cheering was about and added their voices to the approbation.

Ken was not placed in the event as the competition was too strong, but the stewards donated 30 shillings for the courageous boy and presented him with a special blue First Prize ticket. When asked to do a lap of honour, he wanted to know how he could carry the card while holding the reins. "Hold the card in your teeth," he was told.