Pony visitors are such blessings. They don’t come often, but when they do, the comments they make are always educational. For instance, shortly after yesterday’s visitors arrived, one of them said: “This is like Alaska – you’re a long way from everywhere!” Yesterday’s visitors were already indoctrinated into Willowtrail Fell Ponies since they have one at home. Nonetheless, I was flattered when the senior member of the party stated, “If we get another pony, it has to come from here!”
Since the pony that my visitors have at home is still young, one topic we discussed was which of his ancestors in my herd he will most resemble. His owner is quite tall, and the mother expressed concern that her daughter will look too big on her pony. I explained about the barrel of a good Fell Pony ‘taking up leg.’ I then suggested the pony in my herd that their pony is most likely to resemble, and when my visitors agreed, I suggested the owner mount that pony. Indeed the owner didn’t look too big or have legs too long once the barrel of a mature Fell took them up.
After we had visited the half of the herd that is here at home, I took two of the visitors to summer pasture to see the rest of the herd, including the other foals. As usual the entire herd came to greet us, and then when it was clear that nothing interesting was happening, the older ponies went back to grazing. The two foals, though, remained with us, and one in particular was stuck to us until we left. “They’re so friendly,” my visitors exclaimed. When I only nodded in agreement, they replied, “No, you don’t understand. We’ve been to other farms with horse foals and with pony foals, and none of them are this friendly.”
When the visitors were bidding us goodbye, one of them commented, “I learned so much!” Another complimented me on how much I’ve learned about the breed in a relatively short period of stewardship. Of course I gave credit to having a mentor who has been around Fell Ponies for more years than I’ve been alive. They were fascinated to learn about the hundreds of ponies that Joe Langcake handled before he was even twenty years old. I am very fortunate that Joe so willingly answers the endless questions that I ask of him.
The photograph here shows my youngest foal, Willowtrail Timothy, entertaining one of my visitors. I have a bad habit of not carrying a camera when I have visitors – usually I’m carrying a lead rope – so I don’t have any pictures from yesterday of my visitors and my Fells. (Fortunately my visitors took pictures and have graciously shared them, including the one at top.) Timmy got more attention than the rest because of the circumstances. My visitors locked their keys in their vehicle, and because of our Alaska-like location, it took nearly two hours for help to arrive. Because Timmy was in a pen very close to the locked car, many of my visitors passed most of their time watching Timmy and exclaiming about his antics, and I was able to grab a camera when I saw what was going on.
Visitors give me the opportunity to see my herd through their eyes. While I happen to think that my stallion is gorgeous and my stud colt is handsome and my ponies are beautiful and my foals accept handling awfully well, having similar words spout spontaneously from visitors’ mouths is nice confirmation. And the friendly part – I take it for granted, so it’s good to be reminded how fortunate I am!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
I have captured much of what my mentor Joe Langcake has taught me so far in the book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available internationally by clicking here.
My friendly foals are for sale. Click here for more information.