Princess and the Pony Shuffle

Willowtrail Storm PrincessWillowtrail Storm Princess is just 2 ½ months old, yet she’s the one who’s taught me the most during this year’s pony shuffle.  I knew she was quiet and smart, but now I also know she’s wise.  What a blessing to share life with these ponies!

Princess had never encountered the horse trailer before the pony shuffle.  Usually foals need a little ‘assistance’ to load the first time; the most effective assistance I’ve discovered is a chute that ends in the trailer.  Princess, though, has always seemed willing to please, so I thought I’d try loading her in the open.  I parked the truck and trailer in the driveway, brought Princess and her mom out of their paddock, and loaded Mom into the trailer.  Princess was distracted by the bits of green along the driveway and had no interest in following her mom into the big noisy metal box, a typical reaction of foals at this stage of their life with horse trailers.  So we moved the trailer to a place where we had a chute, and Princess followed her mom right onto the trailer.

When it came time to bring Princess and her mom back from pasture a few hours later, I was expecting that Princess might be tough to load since she’d needed ‘assistance’ at home.  Nope.  She popped right into the trailer after her mom and home we came.  After those two successful loads, the next day I thought we’d surely be able to load in the driveway.  After a bit of a rodeo during which Princess made it very clear she wasn’t loading on that trailer in that spot, she once again loaded without effort through the chute.

I’ve been around these ponies long enough to know that patterns have meaning.  So when Princess’s half-sister Willowtrail Mountain Honey also expressed concern about loading on that trailer in that spot, I realized Princess was trying to tell me something not about the trailer but about the trailer in that spot.  Honey loaded in that spot, but she used a four-footed hop to do it instead of walking on.  Apparently that spot was an issue.  I suspect two factors about that spot were problematic.  First, it was on a slight incline, making the ‘step’ into the trailer about twelve inches, a large transition.  Second, the driveway was very uneven in that spot, with small ruts from spring runoff that created sharp variations in the surface.

So when it came time to load Princess on day 3, I didn’t park the trailer in that spot.  I put it where the incline made the step small, and Princess followed her mom right onto the trailer and we proceeded to pasture.  Then Princess made me laugh when it was time to come home later in the day.  We had three of Princess’s paddock mates on the trailer who were all ready to get some green grass.  Her mom on the other hand was more interested in her bucket of vitamins that we had brought her than the green grass she’d had her fill of for the past several hours.  We unloaded the first two ponies, which caught Princess’s attention, and before we could get the third pony out of the trailer, Princess had jumped in, ready to go home!  She jumped out again as I unloaded the last pony then followed her mom onto the trailer without hesitation when it was time to leave.

Princess  has forgiven me for our rodeo when I tried to load her onto the trailer in the unacceptable spot.  And I have new appreciation for this wise young pony.  I look forward to finding her an owner who will appreciate her wisdom and will share stories about how her wisdom manifests as she matures.

(c) Jenifer Morrissey, 2014

Willowtrail Storm PrincessWillowtrail Storm Princess is for sale.  Click here for more information.



About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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