A visitor remarked that they wished more Fell Ponies were being put to use. The comment came back to my mind when the end of the day took some unusual turns.
We stopped at pasture on our way home from work to see Matty and her son Theo. I decided to turn them into a larger area. It was new to Theo, but known to Matty, and almost immediately she crossed the river to get to her favorite grazing areas. Just as I was about to leave, I realized that Theo hadn’t crossed the river, and Matty was ignoring his anxious cries. I dug a halter and lead rope out of the truck and went to find Matty, crossing the river on the road bridge. Matty came to me as I approached, and I haltered her and led her to the river. It had been a long time since I’d ridden her, and I’d never ridden her across the river, but I hopped on and we crossed to the other side and soon found Theo. I put them back in the pasture Theo was accustomed to, putting off Theo’s lesson about river crossing until another day.
I had Shelley and her son Chester at home for a day of stall rest after Chester’s castration, but when we got home it was time for Chester to have some exercise. On our way up the driveway when we got home, I had started a generator to charge the batteries for our Airbnb trailer. The generator needed to be shut off, and the paddock of ponies down the drive needed to be fed, so riding Shelley to do these three chores seemed like a perfect solution. I tacked her up at dusk and we headed out for our first ride in a couple of months. My seven month old puppy is showing herding instincts, and she kept Chester moving; he was a little reluctant due to post-surgical soreness. But he soon go into our old riding routine, and we headed down the driveway. We went to the generator first, and both ponies willingly approached the noisy machine. I dismounted to flick the switch then re-mounted, and we headed back up the driveway towards the nearby pony paddock. Shelley paused briefly to nip a flower off a thistle; our freezing temperatures the morning before hadn’t been quite severe enough to arrest the weed’s blooming, so I appreciated Shelley’s “treatment” of the problem.
When we arrived at the pony paddock, I tied Shelley to the fence while Chester grazed nearby, and I put out hay for the night. Then I remounted and we continued up the drive to the house, where Chester followed his mom back into their stall, making things easy.
Later, as I was cleaning up manure, Chester came to say hello as he used to do when he was younger, and we had a good session of scratches-in-his-favorite-places. I pondered my visitor’s desire to see more Fell Ponies put to use, and I wondered whether riding a mare across a river to reunite her with her abandoned foal or riding a mare to do chores at day’s end would count. No one witnessed these ponies at work except me and their foals and my dogs. I wonder if more Fell Ponies are being put to use than my visitor realizes.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018
More stories like this one can be found in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.