As a breeder, I know that most of the Fell Ponies I produce are destined to live their lives with other people. When Willowtrail Wild Rose was born, though, I knew she was mine. Her mother was my first Fell Pony, and Sleddale Rose Beauty has taught me a lot in the many years we’ve been together. Beauty was twenty years old when Rose was born, and I knew chances were good that Beauty wouldn’t produce another daughter.
Rose turns four in a few weeks, and in the past month she’s been claiming me the way that I claimed her when she was born. When I show up at pasture, if she is not the first to greet me, then she definitely hangs out with me more than the other ponies and often pushes the younger ones away.
The other day I was tending the hose that was filling the stock tank. We have to monitor the hose because the young ponies consider it a toy, and removing the hose from the tank seems to be the object of the game. I was across the fence from Rose, and she was taking every bit of attention I could give her. Something told me that I had an opportunity, so I jumped the fence and started slinging one leg over Rose’s back as I’d done before, affirming her acceptance with scratches in her favorite places. Gradually I let my leg carry some weight, and in a minute or so, I was sitting on Rose’s back for the first time. It was a real thrill for me, since I have done very little formal training of Rose. Yet here I was sitting on her back, no halter or lead rope, in a pasture with five other ponies. It felt like an incredible gift, and Rose claimed a little more of my heart than she already had.
I was talking to a friend recently who expressed frustration at how little training time she had with her horses. She was able to shift her thinking to tell herself that when she had fifteen minutes, that was plenty of time. Before long, with just those short sessions, she was seeing great progress with her horses. My time with Rose is also short, and I too have been frustrated by that. Yet taking just those few minutes and to end up sitting on Rose’s back for the first time was proof that my friend’s shift of perspective was right on.
Each day that I’ve been to pasture since I first sat on Rose’s back, she has been at my elbow, claiming me as hers as much as she can. I suspect I have as much to learn from Rose as I’ve learned from her mother. I look forward to our journey together.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011