Yesterday the wind came up and started to blow really hard midday. I gave thanks for mild-mannered Fell Ponies because, while they were on edge, they weren’t frantic. I fed as usual at lunch time, and about ten minutes later I heard my senior mare Sleddale Rose Beauty give her mild distress call. Usually that’s reserved for me when she’s hungry and I’m late to feed, but since I’d just fed, I knew that wasn’t the issue.
I was busy doing other things, so I chalked Beauty’s distress up to the windy day. A half hour later, though, I saw another possible cause. The wind had blown a tree down in the paddock. As soon as I saw that, alarm bells went off in my head, and I started in the direction of the downed tree, taking a roll call as I went. Only three of the five ponies were visible, so with each step my alarm grew that the other two had been hurt by the falling tree.
When I finally got to where I could see the downed tree, I was also relieved to see the two missing ponies, the youngest, eating hay on the far side of the new obstacle on the ground. Later, when I was telling this story to a friend, I came to a new interpretation of Beauty’s distress call. I don’t think it was about the tree going down. It seemed more to me like she was doing her own roll call, making sure that all the other ponies were safe and accounted for, as a good lead mare should do. Beauty had of course done her roll call in a more timely manner than I had. It never fails to amaze me what I learn from this wise old pony. I hope it will continue for the rest of the days I have with her.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012