I have been surprised by how much I’m enjoying my Fell Pony filly Willowtrail Spring Maiden. Madie (rhymes with shady) has a delightful combination of willing compliance and spunk that makes her fun to watch and a joy to handle. From her attempts to scratch bug bites by walking through bushes to her nickers to me when I enter her view to her strategy to avoid bugs by seeking refuge in our shop, she is an endless source of smiles and chuckles.
I have Madie for sale, and I am blessed to have two good homes interested in her. I wouldn’t let her go to anything less because she is so special to me. And I find myself in the same situation that my friends Joe and June Langcake of the Restar Stud in England once were in, telling myself that I can sell Madie because ‘I can always breed another.’ I can sell Madie because I can breed her parents to get a filly like Madie that I can keep for myself.
Townend Mountain Gypsy IV is Madie’s granddam on her dam’s side. Gypsy threw a string of fillies for the Restar Stud, foaling every year beginning in her third year (she had a colt that first year followed by the string of fillies). Gypsy’s fillies were in great demand in Holland, and Joe and June found themselves selling each of Gypsy’s fillies, saying ‘we can always breed ourselves another.’ After I met the Langcakes, they helped me find a good stallion, and then I asked them for a filly. They had finally decided to retain one of Gypsy’s fillies for themselves because it was the best she had thrown yet, by Lunesdale Prince Albert. But Joe and June sold me Restar Mountain Shelley III because Gypsy had recently thrown yet another filly by the same stallion. Then another friend asked for a filly, and Joe and June sold Shelley’s sister, again saying ‘we can breed ourselves another.’ At this point, Gypsy was fifteen years old. The next year she threw twin colts, and the following year she was open, so Joe and June were beginning to think they’d done themselves in and wouldn’t have any Gypsy fillies for themselves. When Gypsy was eighteen, though, she produced a filly that the Langcakes have retained. This year Jemma produced a colt that they are very proud of. Gypsy passed away suddenly in 2010 at the age of twenty.
Shelley is just seven this year, so there is a chance I can learn from the Langcakes’ experience with Shelley’s mother. I will try not to say every year, ‘I can always breed myself another.’ It is possible, of course, that Shelley won’t follow in her mother’s footsteps, producing fillies consistently (though she’s in lockstep so far with her mother’s track record.) This year, I will enjoy Madie while she is here, and then I will hope that Shelley produces a filly like her next year that I can keep. That’s when learning from the Langcakes’ experience comes in. I need to not let anyone talk me into selling that filly by telling myself ‘I can always breed myself another!’
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011