By far the hardest thing I have had to do so far in my stewardship of Fell Ponies is say goodbye to Sleddale Rose Beauty. She was the mare who started it all, the one who caused me to fall for the breed. She epitomized for me a traditional Fell Pony: lots of bone and substance, unconquerable spirit, active paces. She died at 28 years old, and I got to spend more than half her life with her. What an honor.
Beauty gave me five wonderful foals – Lily, Willow, Yarrow, Rose, and Laddie – and her previous owner three. Rose is still with me. More than that, though, she taught me so much about stewarding this breed. Her role as a lead mare, her toughness in our climate, her love of being a broodmare, her birth on a Cumbrian fell, even her jet black color, all allowed me to learn things that I might not have learned without her. I always knew the herd was well-watched-over when she was there. I always knew youngstock would get appropriate guidance. I always knew she’d let me know if something was amiss. The void of her absence will take a long time to fill. My oldest Fell Pony now is less than half her age.
Beauty also caused me to meet so many people in the Fell Pony community. Libby Robinson of the Globetrotter Stud told me the story of how she came to own Beauty and then export her to America. When I traveled to Cumbria in search of a stallion to match Beauty, I met breeders and enthusiasts, many of whom I’m in touch with regularly and some have honored me with friendship. I was humbled to interview Beauty’s breeder Mr. Harrison before he passed away. These last few days have been made easier by a friend in Germany who reminded me that we met because of Beauty’s pedigree.
I have said goodbye to numerous ponies through my time with the Fell Pony breed. This is the first time, though, that the farewell was permanent. Beauty remained strong in spirit until the end, making my job as her caretaker easier. It’s just one more thing I have to thank Beauty for. At this point though, thanks don’t seem nearly enough.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies is dedicated to Beauty. It is available internationally by clicking here.