Acknowledging Beauty and Being Acknowledged

Sleddale Rose Beauty

Sleddale Rose Beauty, my 23-years-young Fell Pony, is currently lead mare in a herd of six.  We know each other well, having been together for ten years.  Yet tonight she gave me a gift she hadn’t given me before.

I entered the paddock with a bucket for 4-year-old Bowthorne Matty.  Buckets are pony magnets around here, and Matty and I were immediately swarmed.  I didn’t worry about the four ponies younger than Matty, as she can fend them off.  I had my eyes on Beauty who as head mare naturally considers any food that comes into the paddock her property.  I told Beauty to stay back, and she stopped about two feet away, still a commanding presence.  As Matty continued working on her bucket, Beauty made a motion to approach and push Matty off the bucket.  I told her, ‘no’ and she stopped.  I acknowledged her acquiescence by giving her a treat.  What happened next amazed me.  Beauty backed away and moved off to a nearby pile of hay.  I thanked her verbally, and she looked at me as if to say, “I just wanted to be acknowledged.” 

I have had this experience once before, with another mare.  They just want their position in the herd acknowledged, and then they will acknowledge mine.  It is a humbling show of respect.  A friend recently reminded me of Pat Parelli’s saying, “It’s about the relationship.”  What a gift Beauty gave me tonight, honoring our relationship.

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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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