When ponies leave Willowtrail Farm for new homes, they typically go in one of two ways. Most often we deliver them to a transport truck to go off to an owner that neither they nor I have ever met in person before. The second most common type of hand off is to someone who came to the farm to visit and ends up buying a pony then returns to pick it up to take it home. I’ve just experienced a variation on these two common types of hand-offs: someone purchased a pony sight-unseen and then came to pick the pony up. It’s always a pleasure to meet buyers in person.
Willowtrail Mountain Prince, a two year old gelding, has now gone off to Iowa to join two Thoroughbreds at his new home. His new owner expressed excitement before meeting Prince and was thrilled when she finally got to see him in person. It was wonderful to get to experience this first meeting firsthand.
The handoff of Prince to his new owner was accomplished on the edge of a field in a place Prince had never been before. There was a busy highway nearby and cars occasionally passing by us as we prepared to transfer Prince to his owner’s trailer. My trailer is a 3-horse slant load that Prince has been riding in since he was a few days old. His new owner’s trailer was a 2-horse straight load, the kind with a split door whose lower half is a ramp. When I heard this, I thought about how many people find trailer loading to be a real challenge. I looked forward to seeing how Prince would do.
I asked if I could load him into the unfamiliar trailer, wanting to make sure it was as stress-free for Prince as possible. My ponies rarely give professional transporters trouble when loading onto big trucks or large trailers, but this was the first time for a small straight load. My first Fell mare refused to travel in a straight load trailer, so I knew firsthand the unacceptable end of the spectrum. As expected, Prince was on the more-than-acceptable end of the spectrum. He was hesitant about the ramp at first, but then he followed me with only a little coaxing right into the narrow stall with hay awaiting him. Prince’s new owner was suitably impressed because he loaded better than one of their Thoroughbreds who knows the trailer well!
While I might take some credit for the smoothness of this hand-off of Willowtrail Mountain Prince, mostly Prince deserves the credit. He showed me over and over again during preparations for this handoff how level-headed and willing a pony he is. I look forward to hearing what Prince’s new owner discovers about her first Fell Pony.
If you enjoy stories about Fell Ponies like this one, there are more in the books A Humbling Experience (click here for more information) and Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding (click here for more information).
© Jenifer Morrissey