My father Bob Simpson sometimes referred to himself as Scotty McSimpson. He did this because he felt the Scottish part of his ancestry made him forever look for ways to avoid spending money. My version of that inheritance seems to be forever looking for ways to accomplish multiple goals while using the fewest resources. That is how I came to love ponies. They are able to do so many different things, and they are relatively easy to keep. Perfect!
– from the “Introduction” to The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical and Powerful with Small Equines
This past summer we had the great good fortune to travel to Cumbria, the home of the Fell Ponies that I breed. The trip almost was canceled, though, when I learned that my long time critter-sitter was moving to Alaska. As with many things, that bad news was a blessing in disguise. I reached out to a woman whose horse sense and common sense had appealed to me since the first time that I’d met her. I asked her if she could recommend anyone as a critter sitter, and after a few days, she said, “What about me?” I couldn’t believe my good luck.
Paula Moffett runs the stallion program at the Equine Reproduction Lab (ERL) at Colorado State University (CSU). My first encounter with Paula was when we took CSU’s artificial insemination class, and she taught us to collect a stallion and analyze the semen. A few years later I met her one-on-one when we took my Fell stallion Guards Apollo to the ERL to be collected. When Paula took a liking to Apollo, I knew she was someone worth getting to know.
Fast forward to the present. We got to know Paula much better when she took such good care of our critters, our home, and our business while we were away. We learned that she had a goal of owning her own ponies, and she intended to put her critter sitter earnings toward that end. I was thrilled that our pony-oriented trip was supported by a pony-oriented person and that my pony money was supporting another pony adventure. It was my inheritance made manifest: multiple goals accomplished with the same resources. Perfect! Little did we know at the time, though, how ambitious Paula intended her pony adventure to be.
Over the next month, we learned that Paula wanted a team of ponies to pull a wagon for recreational driving. In just a few short months, she had bought a team of ponies, complete with their harness, acquired a forecart and begun to drive them. Captain Jack and Sparrow are Welsh-Percheron ponies standing about 14hh. Paula learned after she bought them that Jack and Sparrow had been part of a six-pony hitch that pulled an antique fire wagon and that a video had been taken of a performance. Click here to watch the hitch. Jack is the right wheel pony and Sparrow is the right swing.
Paula’s pony journey has continued to amaze and delight us. During this holiday season, she and Jack and Sparrow have been one of the hitches that gives carriage rides in downtown Parker, Colorado on the weekends. The pinnacle of Parker’s carriage activities is the Christmas Carriage parade. When we learned that Paula would be participating, we decided it was a perfect opportunity to collect a few of my husband’s grandchildren and go see the parade. Multiple goals accomplished again!
It was a cold snowy day, but good crowds were still on-hand for the parade. I felt sorry for the members of the four marching bands who looked thoroughly frozen despite marching sharply by. Paula and her ponies were one of the first to pass by the reviewing stand, carrying the Parker Town Council. After the parade was over, we headed toward the lot where Paula told us she’d be finishing, and we got to see our three friends in a mellower environment.
I had no idea when we began thinking about a trip to Cumbria that the trip would end up bringing so much joy to us closer to home. We look forward to staying in touch with Paula and Jack and Sparrow as their partnership continues to grow and flourish.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
There are more stories about ponies and their people in The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical, and Powerful with Small Equines, available internationally by clicking here.