I am really enjoying watching my Fell Pony mare Restar Mountain Shelley III and our new Australian Shepherd puppy William. My husband introduced the two within the first twenty four hours of William’s arrival, and since then Shelley and William have interacted in many ways on their own. As much as one can trust a flight animal with four hooves around a very small and not-yet-wise-in-the-ways-of-the-world puppy, I have come to trust Shelley around William.
One of the earliest encounters I got to watch was when I had the ducks loose while I was refreshing their feed and water on William’s third day here. I was about fifty feet away, and William and Shelley were at the hay bale next to the duck house. The ducks came out of their yard, and William approached them just as they decided to take a wing-assisted run. The sudden commotion startled William, and he ran for what he considered safe haven, smack in the center of Shelley’s four hooves. I telegraphed calm to Shelley so she wouldn’t step on William before I could get there to extricate him. I needn’t have worried, as she didn’t flinch either from the ducks’ antics or from William’s taking refuge.
For the first several days after William’s arrival here, I was carrying him everywhere because I didn’t trust any of the ponies around him, and I am constantly walking through pony paddocks. One of the daily routines that William’s arrival badly disrupted was my twice-daily rides on Shelley. By day five, I was really missing these outings, and I was fairly comfortable with Shelley’s reaction to William, so I decided to integrate William into the routine. I mounted Shelley with William in my arms, and we set off down the driveway. Shelley was foot-perfect; it was an amazing experience, especially because William cried due to the cold air and squirmed a little in my arms. I was very thankful for this pony.
Now that William is more comfortable here, he’s started to try to engage Shelley in games. The other day I saw him hiding under the tarp on the hay bale where Shelley was eating. Every once in awhile when Shelley’s nose got close, he’d jump out trying to playfully nip her nose. After a brief chuckle, I intervened so that neither of them got hurt. I’ve also caught William licking Shelley’s feather. It’s amazing how accepting she is of him, much more so than she is of many of the ponies around here!
William came from a litter that included Kate, Harry, Charles and Elizabeth. Perhaps William’s early association with the British royal family has made a connection with Shelley possible in some obtuse way. Shelley’s mother’s sister was a valued member of the Fell Pony herd owned by Her Majesty the Queen, and of course Fell Ponies hail from England.
I’ve started a new endeavor called The Partnered Pony™, a resource for people
who partner with ponies in work, play, breeding, and health. I filter the vast amounts of equine information down to what is practical, possible, and powerful about a life lived with ponies. Part of my Partnered Pony™ experience is integrating ponies into my life in as many ways as I can. Continuing my work with Shelley – William aboard – is just one example of what is possible with ponies. How does The Partnered Pony™ experience manifest in your life?
(c) Jenifer Morrissey, 2013