It is often said that ponies are hardy little buggers, with a confidence and a personality bigger than any 18-hand counterpart—and Storyteller is here to perpetuate such stereotypes. Since starting his stateside career in 2009, the 14.2-hand, 18-year-old German Sport Pony of unrecorded breeding amassed a tricolor record with riders including Taylor St. Jacques, Emma Kurtz, Mimi Gochman, Sophie Gochman, Grace Debney and Caroline Signorino. And since Betsee Parker purchased the chestnut gelding in 2020, veteran pony rider Maddie Tosh has taken over the reins.
But don’t let the number fool you; “Story” is 18 going on 8. And furthermore, he knows he’s the real deal.
“He’s 18 now, but you wouldn’t know it,” said Tosh’s mother Mandy Tosh. “He has some spunk for sure. He does not act his age even a little bit. I mean, he’s kind of a wild man.”
With the U.S. Equestrian Federation Pony Hunter Finals coming just around the corner, Aug. 9-15, where he and Maddie will compete in the large pony hunter division, we take you behind the stall door with this famed pony.
• He knows how to flirt himself into getting a treat. It’s not the bend and snap of “Legally Blonde;” it is the lip flip and head twist, trademark courtesy of Story.
“Every time you walk by his stall, he nickers at you. He lifts his lip up all the time, sticks his tongue out, cocks his head,” Maddie said. “He knows he’s the king of the barn, and he acts that way for sure.”
“He has a stall with a window at home, so every time someone walks by he flips his lip up and cocks his head, and he wants you to come see him,” she added. “He’s so funny. He’s very food-motivated. If you don’t have treats for him, he gets so mad.”
• Though he’s a ham for his hoomans, his species brothers and sisters are a no-go.
“He doesn’t love other horses,” Maddie said. “He thinks he’s bigger than everybody and better than everybody.
“If he’s ever in a bad mood, he’ll double-barrel kick at horses. [The flat class] gets exciting, I’m not going to lie. When it’s crowded, you have to hang on for dear life. If I’m ever in a flat class with some of my friends, I’m like ‘Please stay away.’ He’s so funny because he’s so mean to other horses, but he’s the sweetest pony to people.”
• He looks like a horse shrunk into pony size, and he rides just like that.
“He’s as fun as I thought he was going to be,” Maddie said. “I’ve watched him with Grace Debney and Caroline [Signorino] and all of them. I always thought he would be really fun, and he definitely is. He’s so smooth to ride and he’s just a lot of fun. He’s honestly a little bit lazier than I thought he would be, but he’s pretty awesome. He definitely rides like a horse in a small body.”
• Maddie gets stuffed animals for all her horses (if they don’t destroy them), and Story’s is an owl.
“He’s a wise old man, like an owl,” Maddie said. “He nuzzles it. I just hang it up at shows. He is wise. He knows his job.”
• Though he knows his job, occasionally he’ll try to put Maddie in the dirt.
“Every once in a while, he’ll have a day where he’ll try to buck you off,” she said. “Once in a blue moon, he’s not feeling it that day, and you are not going to stay on. But most of the time he’s pretty perfect.”
• He’s found the right owner with Parker, as when he retires, he’ll be treated like the king he is with his own lush paddock at Huntland Farm in Middleburg, Virginia (to accommodate the aforementioned hatred of fellow equines).