One would think, after as many ponies as have come and gone here, that I wouldn’t notice, that it wouldn’t bother me. But having just sent Lunesdale Silver Belle to her new home, I definitely feel her absence. There’s a void around here, not just because I don’t hear her voice. Not just because I don’t throw her hay or fill her feed bucket. There is a diminished presence having one less pony on the place.
I notice this every time a pony leaves. It’s a smaller hole when it’s a foal that leaves. When an adult leaves, it’s a bigger void. I don’t know if that’s because adults have a bigger body or because we’ve had a longer time to develop a relationship. Perhaps it’s something else entirely.
After Ellie left, my husband told me he doesn’t let himself get attached anymore because it’s too hard for him when a pony leaves. I’m not sure I believe him; the picture here shows him giving Ellie a good bye hug. And I know for me, I don’t have that choice to not get attached. They are too much a part of my every day life. So every pony that leaves, whether I bred it or bought it, takes a bit of my heart with it. I really appreciate when new owners stay in touch and let me know they have let their pony into their heart, too. It gives my heart peace.
I managed Ellie’s departure pretty well as I handed off her travel papers and lead rope and watched her step calmly into a strange trailer. It wasn’t until I said good bye to her through the window that tears threatened. Then as the truck and trailer pulled away and the rest of the herd started calling out their good byes, I couldn’t hold back the sobs. I’ve done this enough times to know it does no good to try to contain them; better to let them out and take a deep breath and continue on with things.
I am very fortunate that the ponies that I send to new owners are going into a variety of different sorts of lives. I felt like the butt of a joke when Ellie was due to leave, though. She is the second pony that I’ve sent to a home where they intend to show. Both Ellie and the previous pony departed during mud season. It is nearly impossible for me to completely remove mud from a pony here. The nearest paved area is nearly two miles away, and because I run my ponies in herds, I don’t have stalls indoors where I can keep them clean. I feel strange sending a pony to a show home with dirt on it, but during mud season it’s nearly impossible to do otherwise. A Cumbrian breeder I spoke to this week came to the rescue. “Tell them it’s traditional to send a Fell to their new home with a bit of earth from their old home,” she said. Beautiful!
With time the void left by Ellie’s departure will fill. My remaining ponies are thrilled to have a little more of my attention. I’m thrilled that feeding time is a little shorter than it was, and the herd dynamics in the mare paddock are a little less complex. I was blessed to share five years with Ellie, and she gave me two beautiful foals. I trust she’ll continue to bring joy to the people in her life as she did to mine. How couldn’t she; she’s a Fell Pony!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll also enjoy the books A Humbling Experience and What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here.