While I’m sure I’ve taken at least one ride before my own breakfast in my life, this is about taking a ride before my mount’s breakfast. Recently it’s been my mare Restar Mountain Shelley III who’s been going on outings with me before her first meal of the day. I’ve been taking advantage of her footing sense to navigate our snow-packed and sometimes icy driveway.
Shelley and I have done this for a few years, but I’ve added a new twist. I’ve asked her to transport not just me but two feed buckets down the driveway for the two ponies housed farthest away. It’s one thing for a pony to accommodate something strange and somewhat noisy on their back. They also must accept the shift in my center of gravity due to holding the buckets. Then they must be willing to put their own hunger pangs aside, accepting food on their back that isn’t meant for them. It’s that last that I think is most challenging for a pony! Shelley has hardly questioned the situation.
Mya the Wonder Pony was my first pony, and I have one very vivid memory of riding her before breakfast. It was at Turkey Trot Springs, my first home with ponies, and the neighbor’s cattle had broken through the fence into our hay meadow. When I spotted them upon arising, I hurried out to the barn to collect Mya so we could herd them back where they belonged. It was a foggy morning, and when we’d pushed the cows about a half mile, the fog thickened. Mya apparently decided she’d had enough of the chore because she stopped and bucked me off. I don’t remember any other time that Mya bucked me off. It was definitely a communication of her opinion of our work, since she didn’t run off; she just stood there waiting for me to collect my wits and remount.
On Shelley’s and my most recent ride before breakfast, we’d had a run of warm weather which turned more of the packed snow to ice. I gave Shelley her head to pick the safest route down the driveway. She was very business-like, and I was thinking how enjoyable it was to have such a willing mount on a before-breakfast chore. Just before we reached the two ponies awaiting their buckets, though, Shelley decided it was time to turn around and head back for her own breakfast. After I got Shelley headed to the destination I had in mind again, I laughed. I suppose if I’m going to ask a pony to take a ride before their breakfast, I have to be ready for them to express their opinion somehow!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
If you enjoy stories like this one, you might also enjoy the books A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies and What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking here.