She’s not really a semi-feral pony, since the photo clearly shows her tacked up to be ridden. But I got such a kick out of what Willowtrail Wild Rose did when I let her loose before breakfast one morning. It was snowing hard when I went out to feed, so I couldn’t tack her up as I normally do prior to our chore ride down the driveway. So I changed my chore routine. Normally I give her something to eat before our ride, but this morning I put her hay and feed bucket in her paddock but didn’t allow her to have them. Instead, I hand-walked her down the driveway and let her loose, encouraging her to run back up the driveway to her breakfast (I’d left her paddock gate open).
Our normal twice-daily chore routine is to ride down to a paddock where I dismount and tie her and feed the ponies there while she eats hay that I put out for her where she’s tied. When I let her loose on this morning, though, instead of going up the driveway, she jumped a snowpile and ended up right where I normally tie her, settling in to eat what hay was left from the previous afternoon’s chore ride.
I laughed and went about feeding the ponies in the paddock, thinking that Rose would head up the driveway eventually. I expected she’d go up the driveway at speed since normally I keep her at a walk when we’re riding because I’m holding feed buckets and stretching her legs would probably be a welcome change. This is, after all, what my other chore pony Shelley does. But Rose hadn’t left by the time I did, and she hadn’t returned to her breakfast by the time I got back to the top of the road and began putting feed buckets together for the next pony paddock. She did eventually return and settle into her breakfast normally, and I shut the gate behind her.
Later in the day I discovered, however, that Rose hadn’t come up the driveway after all (it was easy to see her route through the snow!) The driveway is plowed, but instead Rose chose to circle out into the clearcut where there are a couple of feet of snow then where she could have rejoined the driveway she again veered away from it through the log yard where there was more than a foot of snow. She visited both gates of the mare paddock before going to her breakfast, using the plowed driveway only for a short portion of her journey. She definitely didn’t take the easy or direct route, instead choosing to blaze a trail of her own through ‘wild’ territory. I laughed when I saw the route, thinking she was harkening back to her ancestors who were in the semi-feral herds of ponies in Cumbria.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018
There are more stories like this one in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.