Bowthorne Matty, my nine-year-old Fell Pony mare, is greeting me at the fence every chance she gets. I don’t remember her ever doing this before. This winter I rode her short distances across paddocks for the first time, and she was much more compliant than I expected her to be based on our eight years together.
In an online discussion about physical maturity, Sue Millard, author of Hoofprints in Eden and having numerous other Fell Pony credentials, commented that mental maturity doesn’t occur until nine years old, a year past physical maturity. When I first heard it, I was intrigued but couldn’t say that I’d observed this milestone myself.
When I noticed Matty’s behavior, Sue’s observation came to mind. I recognize that Matty is a half sister to one of Sue’s ponies, so it occurred to me that perhaps it was a feature of that particular line of pony. Then I ran across notes about another of my ponies that changed when she passed that milestone. I have another mare about to pass that milestone next year, so you can bet I’ll be paying attention!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
Essays like this populate the book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available internationally by clicking here.