Later Life with Fell Ponies

Raisburn Lettie II and Judith Bean.  Courtesy Judith Bean

Raisburn Lettie II and Judith Bean.  Courtesy Judith Bean

One of my best Fell Pony friends has turned ninety years old.  Whenever we talk, there seems to be an opportunity for them to say how young I am.  I certainly don’t feel young, but it’s always nice to hear nonetheless.  And of course it’s relative since I’m just over half their age.  Another blessing of that friendship and several others I have with septuagenarians and octogenarians is that I get to watch how they manage their later life while staying involved with Fell Ponies.

After thinking about my own later life with Fell Ponies, I’ve come up with what I think is my best option.  Since I don’t have children, I don’t have anyone to hand my herd off to, so keeping them isn’t an option.  Therefore, I know there will come a time when I’m unable to do the heavier work – trimming hooves, hefting hay, dragging hoses – so I will have to sell my ponies to new and like-minded stewards.  (Since my husband is eight years older, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to help me with the ponies in my later life.) 

For me, though, life without ponies isn’t an option I want to consider.  So I’ve decided that my best option is to relocate near the new steward so that I can still spend time with ‘my’ ponies.  I don’t put much stock in fancy surroundings for myself, so a little cottage or apartment adjacent to the farm where my ponies will live is my ideal later life.

Hopefully my transition to that later life is a few decades off yet, but I was nonetheless thrilled when I received a phone call indicating my ideal may be much easier to achieve than I’d imagined.  A mother-daughter pair of Fell Pony enthusiasts called to pick my brain about an idea they want to pursue.  They have a vision for combining Fell Ponies with senior care.  The specifics that they shared lined up so well with what I’d been envisioning for myself that I was almost giddy when I put down the phone!

The voices of my senior citizen pony friends are always brighter and lighter when they have spent time with Fell Ponies.  Hearing that brightness and contrasting it with how they sound when they haven’t had any pony time has greatly informed my thinking about my own future.  I’m thankful I’m not the only one working on ways for people to have pony time in later life.

© Jenifer Morrissey 2017

More stories like this one can be found in my book What an Honor:  A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.