I was out of town for four days recently. It was the longest I’ve been away from my ponies in a few years. My husband stayed behind in part to care for my friends. Every time I talked to him, he’d just come in from some pony chore, despite my fevered attempts before I left to prepare things to minimize his workload.
My travel destination brought back many memories of my career in high tech. My hours then were as long as they are now but passed of course in an office building not a home office or farmyard. I often ‘vacated’ that life, taking trips to enjoyable destinations to do entertaining things that took my mind off my job. By contrast, my recent trip felt more like temporarily abandoning where I’m meant to be.
I’ve been in touch recently with someone whose equine herd has weight issues and potentially laminitis. They are employed full time off the farm as I used to be, and their situation caused me to ponder the question, “Are ponies a lifestyle?” Prior to hearing this person’s plight, I had taken for granted how my current lifestyle allows me to keep my ponies. After my trip brought back memories of my previous lifestyle, I realized there’s no way I could have kept ponies then the way that I do now. Using a dry lot to manage their easy-keeping qualities where I feed them four times a day, interacting with them regularly during the day to keep their minds happy, moving them on and off pasture as their weight and health require – none of these would have been possible when I was gone from home for as many as twelve hours a day.
I am currently dealing with a management challenge that seems impossible to have managed in my previous life. I had to bring one pony home from pasture because she was gaining weight too quickly. She is at home in a paddock by herself, with the rest of her herd still at pasture, a situation she is none too pleased with. In an attempt to keep her happy, I’m spending time with her several times a day, sometimes doing on-line work, sometimes ridden.
I know there are people who have a lifestyle more similar to my old one than my current one and who have figured out how to keep ponies. Ponies are just too enjoyable not to figure it out! I know that if my lifestyle ever reverts to the one I used to have, I too will figure out how to keep my easy-keepers. For now, though, thanks to the person who shared their struggles with their herd, I feel even more fortunate to live life with ponies the way that I do.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
Jenifer Morrissey is the author of A Humbling Experience and Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, both available internationally by clicking here.