Ponies have been my focus and my passion for nearly two decades. Every once in awhile, though, I get surprised when they appear in a part of my life where I don’t expect them.
The last time I saw my father, he didn’t know who I was, thanks to the curse of dementia. He did, though, have quite a collection of postcards that he treasured from the Pony Lady. I succeeded in connecting with him from a distance by sending pictures of my ponies in a format that encouraged conversation with his caregivers. I often received feedback from Dad’s visitors indicating how much Dad appreciated my efforts. Dad never seemed very interested in animals when he was younger, but photographs were a big part of my growing up with him.
Dad has finally been freed from the curse of dementia. The planning of his Celebration of Life had the unexpected benefit of reconnecting with my aunt, his older sister. Part of the Celebration was a slide show, and my aunt dove into boxes long stored in her garage and found photographs my siblings and I had never seen before. As you’ll have guessed, one of those photographs shows my aunt and my father aboard a pony.
Two things struck me about this photograph. First of course was that Dad was actually in physical contact with an equine, though he doesn’t necessarily look happy about it. My brother found home movie footage from fifty years ago showing my dad actually riding a horse, with me in the saddle in front of him. In that case he actually had a smile on his face! The second thing that struck me about the photo from Dad’s childhood was the size and apparent color of the pony underneath him. It’s not as obvious in this photo as it is in another one that my aunt shared that also included their cousins. This pony is about the size and color of my first pony Mya, an 11.2hh silver dapple. Of all the possible sizes and colors that ponies can be, that my father would be astride a pony so similar to my first one I find truly remarkable.
A day rarely goes by when ponies aren’t somehow part of what I do. Even when we make one of our twice monthly trips to the ‘big city’ for supplies, we frequently make time for a meal with a pony friend. I even figured out how to see ponies when I traveled for my father’s Celebration of Life! These are all things I plan so that ponies can be even more present in my life. Nonetheless there are parts of my life that are still pony-free. So when a pony appears in one of those normally pony-free areas, the surprise is a delightful one indeed.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016
A story about my familial connection to Fell Ponies can be found in Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available on Amazon and by clicking here.