I realized the other day that for the first time I have a fully mature Fell Pony stallion. It’s very fun. I’ve had Fell Pony stallions since 2002, of course, when I first got involved with the breed. I sold my first stallion, Midnight Valley Timothy, when he was just shy of eight years old. I sold Willowtrail Black Robin when he was five. Guards Apollo is eleven this year, and there is something different about a stallion at this age than when they’re younger.
One of the things I evaluate when deciding whether a colt is stallion material is the way he manages his energy. Colts should have lots of energy, of course, so I look at how they use it. Do they expend it by running, by chewing, by playing rough with their mothers or herdmates? How fast or slow does their energy come up or down? For me the ideal stallion-material colt has energy that comes up and down quickly, and the colt expends his energy respectfully towards others in his world. While this sort of energy management can certainly be taught to some degree, I think in a stallion it also has to be inherent in his character.
Energy management is also what seems to distinguish a fully mature stallion from a younger one. How he uses his energy is an expression of his character, and when fully mature, every expenditure seems more fully imbued with purpose and meaning than when they’re younger. I understand now why Lipizzaner stallions are not considered ready to perform until they are fully mature. The flourish of a head toss, a rear, a capriole, are all more elegant to behold in a fully mature stallion than they are when executed at a younger age, and it’s not just because of the fullness of the physical package.
Since Apollo is the only fully mature stallion with whom I’ve spent significant time, I don’t know whether some of what I’m seeing in him is unique to him or is true for other fully mature stallions, too. Take his exuberance, for instance. Exuberance is part and parcel, at least in my experience, of the stallion package, but in Apollo now it is married with a contentment of spirit. It may seem strange, but I consider his exuberance to be married with a peacefulness that I didn’t perceive when he was younger. It’s as if he can now more wholly coordinate his mind and body so that everything has meaning: every movement, every vocalization, even every choice for stillness.
Given that Apollo is the first stallion I’ve had become fully mature, I have no idea whether this stage lasts for the rest of his life or whether it is a phase that passes. I do know, though, that I will enjoy each day that Apollo wishes to share his fullness of spirit. Bearing witness to it is a privilege.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014