My mentor in Fell Pony breeding is also like-minded when it comes to horsemanship. I feel very, very fortunate that this is the case because there are times when the two overlap. For instance when one shows breeding stock to a client or takes breeding stock to a show, both come into play. Recently my mentor told me two stories that illustrate this overlap.
The first story is about a visitor to my mentor’s farm. The visitor was the breeder of my mentor’s stallion, and accompanying the breeder was a client who wanted to see the stallion. When the breeder arrived at the farm, he asked my mentor where the stallion was. “Out with the mares of course. I’ll fetch him,” my mentor said. “You’ll never be able to separate him from the mares; I never could,” replied the breeder. “You watch,” replied my mentor. “You’ll need cake and a stick,” said the breeder.
Out to the field the party went, and my mentor whistled for his stallion. Up popped the stallion’s head, and upon a second whistle and a call of his name, the stallion came trotting to my mentor. The stallion’s breeder and his client were suitably impressed. After the party was finished examining the stallion, and the stallion had returned to his mares, the breeder said, “I’ll bet you couldn’t do that again.” “You watch,” replied my mentor. Again he whistled for his stallion, and again the stallion came to him without incentive of cake or fear of stick.
The second story described a situation at the annual Stallion and Colt Show. My mentor had brought to the show a stallion on loan from another breeder. When that breeder greeted my mentor, he asked what pony my mentor intended to show. When my mentor told him, the breeder expressed astonishment. “I’d rather kill that stallion than show him,” said the breeder. “He’d like to kill me.” My mentor proceeded to take a very mild-mannered stallion out of the trailer, walk him about, and return him to the trailer.
A little while later, my mentor returned to his horse trailer to find a crowd of men around it and two men inside it. When he asked what was going on, he recognized the breeder. “I want to see if I can show this stallion,” the breeder said. It was clear the stallion had other ideas, as it refused to let its breeder put a halter on its head. After a few minutes witnessing the struggle, my mentor saw one of the men with a syringe in his hand, apparently intending to tranquilize the stallion. He asked all the men to leave. My mentor went on to show the stallion that day without need of chemical assistance.
These stories illustrate something that I have found with this breed. They are very good judges of human character. Treat them fairly and respectfully, and they will return the favor. Treat them otherwise, and they will also return the favor. The ponies in my mentor’s care are very lucky ponies indeed.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012