I don’t intentionally conduct this test with my ponies. Yet as I’ve worked on What an Honor, the sequel to A Humbling Experience, I’ve added three different chapters describing other ponies in my herd that have passed the test, so one could be forgiven for coming to a different conclusion.
My new colt Lucky Joe passed the test just a week after he arrived here. It was a pretty winter day, and my husband came to tell me that Lucky Joe wasn’t where he was supposed to be. They had just been having a conversation, and my husband turned away to do a chore nearby. He turned back and watched Lucky Joe approach the paddock fence and pop right over it. The ‘test’ that Lucky Joe passed was jumping out of a paddock. All my best conformed ponies do it at some point. I guess I should be pleased that most of the ponies I have now have passed the test!
I have Lucky Joe in a paddock with five foot fences. Our well-above average snow, however, has shortened the fence, and in the place that Lucky Joe chose, it was barely three feet high. The snow on the other side was nearly three feet deep, so the going was not nearly as easy on that side of the fence. Lucky Joe did a lot of floundering since snow is still fairly new to him, making it easy for us to catch up to him.
I took Lucky Joe’s halter off the day he arrived and hadn’t gotten around to seeing how it would go to put it back on him. To say I was pleased when I was able to halter him without issue out in the open is an understatement! Then he led willingly back to his paddock. The hardest part was keeping him there, since he immediately showed his intent to jump out again and go visiting the other ponies nearby.
Fortunately my husband had the perfect solution. While I guarded the short fence, he retrieved several panels from my round pen and we wired them to the paddock fence, increasing its height by two feet. It’s going to look really silly when the snow melts, but in the meantime it’s keeping Lucky Joe where he’s supposed to be. My choice of round pen design was again confirmed; those panels come in handy in so many situations (to read more, request Issue 3 of The Partnered Pony™ Inquirer by clicking here.)
The photograph shows Lucky Joe napping next to the spot in the fence where he passed the test. The top of the original paddock fence is just above Lucky Joe’s ears. You can see the extra panel that has increased the height above the original fence. We’ve received six inches more snow since he jumped out, making the fence even shorter than it was the day Lucky Joe passed the test.
Bowthorne Matty passed the test on the day of her arrival at Willowtrail Farm, at about the same age that Lucky Joe is. Willowtrail Wild Rose also jumped out when she was about Lucky Joe’s age. Willowtrail Liberty’s passing of the test vexed us. You’ll have to read that story in What an Honor when it comes out!
There is definitely a pattern to ponies passing the test. Heavy snow years provide ideal opportunities for ponies to get packed-snow-assists in jumping paddock fences. I wouldn’t be surprised if my other youngstock get an opportunity to pass the test this year since the snowiest part of our winter is yet to come!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014