A Troublesome Awakening

Willowtrail Farm Fell PoniesIt may come as a surprise to know that, for me, as a pony lover, waking up to the sound of a pony’s neigh is a troublesome thing.  My ponies don’t make noise when all is well, so this morning when I awoke to a pony call, I figured my day would start in a different way than I’d planned.  I put my bathrobe over my nightgown, and sure enough when I stepped outside, there was a pony there to greet me in a location where she shouldn’t have been.  I walked far enough in my sandals to determine that indeed her paddock mate was also not where he was supposed to be, then I went back inside to put on boots.

It was some consolation that when I reappeared outside with a halter, Shelley approached me to be haltered.  I probably didn’t express much appreciation, as I needed to find my stallion Apollo; I left Shelley loose.  I was pretty sure where Apollo would be because Mya showed me yesterday that she was in heat, and indeed that is where I found Apollo, fortunately still with an electric fence between him and his object of desire. 

Apollo had apparently been out long enough to fill his stomach since, without discussion, he let me halter him and lead him back to whence he’d come.  Shelley greeted us before long; I pushed her away with a swing of the lead rope, and she flipped her tail at me and trotted off a short distance, only to reappear at her mate’s side to sniff his nose while I opened the gate to their paddock.  I led Apollo in, then again felt some consolation when Shelley followed us in unbidden.  I did give her a treat at that point since she saved me the trouble of having to fetch a second halter.

These two ponies are fun to watch because they really seem to like each other.  The way that Shelley and Apollo touched noses when they were reunited is different than I’ve seen any other two ponies in my herd interact.  They also prefer to eat out of the same pile of hay, and I’ve watched Shelley push other mares away from Apollo as though claiming him for her own.  I can’t helped but be touched by these apparent displays of affection.

These two ponies also have a form of teamwork that led to my troublesome awakening this morning.  When I am gone from the farm for more than a few hours, Apollo begins to chew on the fence rails.  I have been gone more than usual recently, and so the rails have become thin in places due to his handiwork (or is that ‘dental work’?!).  Shelley’s role on the team stems from her interest in green edibles.  She regularly reaches through the fence and then pushes on the rails to get that one tantalizing bit that would otherwise be out of reach.  Apparently this morning the rails were no longer a match for her effort, and they broke.  So after dressing and eating breakfast, I repaired fence.

While I prefer not to have my ponies break out of their pens and wake me up with an unscheduled project, I do appreciate the feedback I get on the relationships we share in situations like this morning.  To have Shelley offer to be haltered and later offer to enter the paddock unbidden, to have Apollo let me halter and lead him away from a mare in heat and from green grass that he never gets enough of – these are valued commentaries about our rapport.  I am very fortunate to share my life with these ponies.  As a caller and I agreed this morning, one lifetime won’t be enough.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013

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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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