Sometimes the universe has interesting ways of answering questions, including those that we sometimes aren’t consciously asking. Willowtrail Moonlit Lady’s buyer asked how Lady was doing leading. I said she was haltered and led one to two times a day with no problem, just as I expect at 9 months old. In the back of my mind, though, I wondered how she would do in a challenging situation.
Work called me away unexpectedly late one day, so it was dark when I arrived back to feed the ponies. I had missed one feeding, so I expected everyone to be a little on edge, but it had been a nice afternoon, and nothing seemed particularly amiss. That is, until I went to the mares’ paddock, and Lady wasn’t at the fence to greet me as she normally does. I entered the paddock, scanning the dark shapes against the snowy background looking for one smaller than the rest. When I still didn’t see her, I then began calling her name. Normally this will rouse her if she’s been napping. But still no Lady. Now I was getting concerned.
I went back to the house for a flashlight and searched the entire paddock, and still Lady was nowhere to be found, so she was clearly outside the paddock somewhere. A few minutes more searching located her along the paddock fence in a stand of small trees. She had apparently gone over a low spot in the fence (I’ve been planning the rebuild of that fence for this spring), but she then floundered in deep snow. The snow was very shallow under the small trees, and she had spent her freedom wandering from one tree shadow to the next. I had her feed bucket with me, but she was reluctant to follow her feed bucket out of her captivity in one direction, showing me that the required postholing through the packed snow was unacceptable to her. I found another route where the snow was softer, and she followed me willingly to a plowed area and started working on her feed bucket, during which time I scanned her with the flashlight for any signs of injury. After she finished, I repeated the scan with my hands and was relieved to find that she was just fine.
Now began the opportunity for me to find out how well Lady would lead in a challenging situation. Haltering her was no problem as usual, but I had to lead her around a stallion pen out onto the driveway to get to a gate not blocked by deep snow. I couldn’t have asked for better cooperation! On top of that, when she had been eating her feed, I slipped on ice next to her and fell down, and she didn’t even flinch. I love this pony!
Our light winter in the snow department has deprived Lady of a lesson most of my ponies get in their first year. When we have normal snowfall, they have the opportunity to learn that they can get mired in deep snow, so they should avoid it. Lady got this lesson that night when she jumped the fence, and she hasn’t ventured out again. And I got the answer to that back-of-my-mind question. She leads just fine!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018
More stories like this one are in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.