“Nice leadrope,” my visitor shouted as I was bringing one of my Fell Pony mares to her to be introduced. A few minutes before, I had led another mare across the turnout for introduction by putting my hand under her jaw bone and encouraging her forward, no tack at all. The second mare had been more interested in hay than the social occasion, so I slipped my jacket off and tossed one sleeve over her neck and led her with the resulting ‘leadrope’ around her neck. Mare #3 allowed me to repeat my first, simpler, procedure.
When I did finally go off to get a proper halter and lead rope, I had to walk away from Shelley, my visitor, to clean out the pony congestion before I could use the tack. We both got a good laugh out of the perfect troika of ponies that accompanied me as I backed away, agreeing that it would take months of training to recreate the beautiful three-abreast they formed in an effort to be the chosen one to be haltered!
Interactions like these are commonplace for me with my ponies. Rarely, however, do I get to share them with someone who understands and interacts with equines the way that I do. Shelley’s presence was a gift to me because she is one of these rare souls. The next day she wrote the following, “I am so enthused and impressed by all that you do with your ponies and the process that you use with them. They are all so handsome and nice to be around; what a compliment to your time and effort with them. I had such a nice time yesterday, learning and observing you with your ponies. It was so inspiring to see you happily living a life you choose to live. I see you could be a great fell pony friend to me. You’ve certainly done your homework and have the results to show for it.”
I hope Shelley ends up with a Fell Pony someday, even if it’s not one of mine. She has come to the breed with great sincerity and a deliberate process to choose the right equine to bring into her life. She will not only provide a great home and partnership to her pony but will also, by providing those things, make it possible for her pony to represent the breed well in whatever endeavors they engage in.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011