“It’s Marvelous, Really”

Willowtrail Farm Fell PoniesA snow storm rolled in quickly late in the afternoon and dropped two inches in a less than an hour.  I was decidedly uninspired to go out and start chores in it, but then I remembered I’d put three ponies out to graze on the dry autumn forage that’s left here and there around the farm.  The ponies needed to be rounded up and put away, so I forced myself to get going.

After putting on my outdoor clothes, I stepped out into the shop and drew my hood up over my stocking cap in preparation for walking out into the storm.  I was pleased though not entirely surprised to discover two of the three ponies with their heads buried in an open bale of hay nearby.  I retrieved some halters, put them on, and started walking my two friends to their paddock, wondering where the third pony might be.  Before long I spied her below the paddock where her herdmates are, making a note to myself to return there.

After re-homing the twosome, though, I decided I’d let Rose graze a little longer while I fed the other ponies.  They were all happy to see me and a little high energy as the white wet stuff kept falling.  I threw out several wafers of hay and filled a tub for the next feeding before grabbing a halter to go fetch Rose.  As I started walking towards where I’d last seen her, I saw Rose start walking towards the nearest gate into the paddock.  Was it really going to be this easy?  I kept walking towards the gate, as did she, and when I opened it, she walked through without any beckoning on my part.  I was touched at how easy Rose made fetching her on me.

This interaction with Rose reminded me of a story my friend Joe told me.  Twenty years ago he was starting to train one of his young mares, and he was long reining her down a road when he stepped in a hole and fell down.  Because his hands were on the lines, he wasn’t able to catch himself as he fell and ended up hitting his head and knocking himself out briefly.  This particular mare had a bit of fire about her and she ended up running off.  A little while later Joe’s son came upon Joe and asked what had happened.  When Joe explained, Joseph asked where Gypsy was.  Joe pointed down the road and indeed they could see her standing next to a fence several hundred yards off.  “We’ll have to go get her,” Joe’s son said.  “She’ll never come back on her own.”  “No,” Joe said.  “Just wait.”  A few minutes later, Gypsy started galloping toward them, lines streaming out behind her.  She came to a stop right next to where Joe was still recovering from his fall.  Gypsy, like Rose for me, made fetching her easy on Joe.

After Joe told me this story, he said, “It’s marvelous really, Jenifer, when these ponies do these things.  They don’t have to, mind.  They could not come.  They could go the other way.  But they don’t.”  When Joe told me the story about Gypsy, I appreciated that Gypsy had returned and made it easy on him.  But until today with Rose I didn’t appreciate that more important than making it easy was the statement Gypsy made about her relationship with Joe.  Rose made a similar statement today about her relationship with me.  They choose to cooperate with us, to make things easy on us.  It is marvelous, really.

© 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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