I have had numerous occasions in my Fell Pony career to experience the Fell Pony Society motto, “You can’t put a Fell Pony to the wrong job.” I am however unable to experience another of the common refrains about Fells as family ponies – capable for the adults and good with kids – because we don’t have children here. I feel fortunate, then, to be experiencing this Fell Pony refrain vicariously through a pony I bred and the family that owns him.
Willowtrail Jonty is about to turn eight, and his owner is noticing his maturity. “I just wanted to check in and let you know how much we love Jonty. He is finally starting to look and act like an “adult,” if that makes sense. He seems to really know his job (working with me and taking care of the kids), most of his spookiness and lack of concentration (minor stuff…normal for youngsters) has passed, and he seems to enjoy his routine. “
His owner went on to describe Jonty’s role in the family. “I have been taking him on trail rides two or three times per week this spring as our roads are perfect for it right now…muddy and soft and fun to trot on. He will go out by himself but prefers others. He still gets a little worried in new territory by himself and will stop and try to return home (fine for me to handle but not a novice rider yet). However, if we are on a familiar road, he walks nicely on a loose rein by himself and is quite happy.
“He has great ground manners and stands perfectly still and enjoys his grooming. I even watched him stand perfectly still as my daughter used the bristly side of a hoof pick and brushed his belly before I realized what she was doing. He didn’t even care. The kids can oil his hooves and brush his tail and he is great.
“We try not to give him treats except in his paddock, on the ground. Otherwise he starts getting too mouthy. However, no matter how many times I announce throughout the barn that he isn’t to be fed treats, the other boarders simply love him and will forget and hand him something as they walk past. It drives me crazy but they all have these big dressage horses that live on treats and they forget. Everyone adores him and always come over to say hi when he enters the barn.
“We will probably do a few local shows with him this year, and both kids are becoming more active in pony club. He loves to go places and jumps right in the trailer, and stands quietly tied to the trailer at shows.”
I have seen pictures of Jonty competing for the mom in dressage and eventing, as well as giving the kids rides. It’s clear he is the epitome of a family pony, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016
There are lots of stories like this one about what make Fell Ponies unique in the book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available on Amazon and by clicking here.