The ponies are quietly eating their breakfast as I enter their pen. I step around them with my scoop shovel and begin collecting the manure from the night before. It’s satisfying work, accomplished to the calming sound of hay being chewed.
I am stooped down, and my back is turned when I feel a soft touch on my elbow. Without even looking I know which pony has joined me. Six-week-old Willowtrail Mountain Storm has arrived to ‘help’ me with my chore as he does every day. His idea of ‘helping’ is rarely consistent with mine. His goal is to get scratches in his favorite places. If I fail to acknowledge his presence immediately, he puts a little more pressure on my nearest body part with his nose.
Then there are the times when I am looking in his direction as he approaches. If I stay focused on my chore instead of stopping to greet him, he approaches a step at a time, and if I still don’t acknowledge him, I find him standing in my scoop shovel. It’s a little hard to keep working with that kind of help!
If I fail to say hello in a way that he wants, he will take my jacket in his teeth and pull. He knows this gets my attention because it’s a high priority for me to discourage mouthiness. I immediately make him back off, and he stands at a small distance awaiting an invitation to approach again. When I indicate he can come, his goal is achieved: he has my attention, and he gets that scratch in a favorite place.
Storm is like his sister and brother before him. All my foals are interested in engaging, but these three have all offered just a little bit more. Someday I hope I’ll find words to describe it. In the meantime, I’ll appreciate Storm while he is here.
You can read about all that Storm’s sister Willowtrail Spring Maiden offered in the book My Name is Madie, available, by clicking here.