I find it more than amusing that I fall in love with my stallions. It’s amusing because I never intended to own one when I got started with Fell Ponies, and now I can’t imagine life without one. I’ve just embarked on a journey with my fourth, and as usual I entered the relationship with skepticism. Just as before, now that several months are complete, I’m fully committed!
There’s a chapter about stallions one and two in my forthcoming book What an Honor (click here for more information). Stallion #3 was my homebred Willowtrail Black Robin. I knew from birth that Robin was special, and as time went on, that initial impression was confirmed. As I worked with him and then bred him and saw his offspring, my appreciation for his role in the breed grew. Robin has now undertaken a successful dressage career in New York and will see his first offspring for his new owner next spring.
One of the things I remarked on when I wrote about my first two stallions was being able to put a halter and lead rope on them and jump on their back. I went one step further with Robin and mounted him with no tack at all. The picture here shows how concerned Robin was: he was more interested in a stick on the ground than the person on his back!
The same pattern has emerged with my new stud colt Restar Lucky Joe. Lucky Joe is just a year old, so of course I’m not mounting him yet. But I have done something with him that I never did with any of my other stallions.
Lucky Joe traveled from Cumbria to Willowtrail Farm during the winter, and his journey was held up a number of times because of weather. He arrived here after 55 days on the road instead of the anticipated 21, and it soon became clear that he had been mistreated while en route to me from his breeder. He was very skittish and uncomfortable about things that had once been routine for him. He shied when approached from certain angles, for instance, suggesting he’d been hit. I was told he’d had a chain put over his nose at one point, and that sort of handling would have been very foreign to him, so it’s likely that his reaction caused an equal and greater reaction from a human handler that left a lasting impression on Lucky Joe. Fortunately, Lucky Joe has been able to put most of that behind him as he’s gotten to know us and realize that we will never harm him.
One of the things that Lucky Joe was uncomfortable with was having his feet handled. This was one of my first clues that something went amiss during his travels because his breeder had been handling his feet daily with no issues at all. To make a long story short, the other day I trimmed Lucky Joe’s hooves for the first time, and he allowed it while standing at liberty – no halter, no lead rope, not tied, just standing patiently while this new-to-him experience unfolded. I was terribly pleased that our relationship has progressed this far. And I couldn’t help but think that if this is what’s possible at a year old, the sky’s the limit as we go forward together!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014