It wasn’t until I got my second Fell Pony stallion and my fourth Fell Pony mare that I realized I owed Commanche some thanks. Commanche was the first pony stallion I ever met. My heart went out to his owner Patricia Burge when she called me to say she’d sent her second pony stallion friend over the rainbow bridge in as many months. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair.
Commanche was a Shetland stallion and on the small side for the breed. For many years Commanche’s stud fees paid for the feed for all of Pat’s pony herd, even though he got very little of the feed himself. He often served mares taller than he was, and Pat shared the various tricks she used to enable Commanche to perform his service.
My second Fell Pony stallion takes after a famous ancestor, Tebay Campbellton Victor, a proper Fell Pony in every way but small in height. My fourth Fell Pony mare stands at 13.3hh, above the breed average by an inch. Prior to getting my fourth mare, I had always pasture-bred, letting the ponies work out the logistics themselves. When I first put my second stallion and fourth mare together, though, it was clear their height difference was going to make completion of the breeding act challenging. I learned to put the mare on an incline facing downhill, so that the stallion could gain a few inches in height. I’ve since brought other taller mares in that require me to similarly manipulate the breeding act. I wouldn’t have immediately known how to ensure success had it not been for meeting Commanche.
In my book The Partnered Pony, Commanche appears in a few stories. He sometimes worked in harness with his good friend and paddock mate Tugboat, and Pat tells about their glee on some outings. Pat also relates a story about Commanche and her Fell Pony Danny. It must have been something to see these two pony stallions interacting. For Pat to have lost them both so close in time to each other leaves a void that her other ponies will only be able to fill with the passage of time.
When I was beginning my pony journey, Pat and her husband Dick generously shared of their time and experience. I didn’t know then what great insight I was getting into managing my future pony breeding stock. It is obvious now that it’s because of Commanche that many of my Fell Pony foals were even born. Thank you, Commanche, and rest in peace.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016