I’ve been stewarding my ponies long enough that I can usually make a pretty good guess about their behavior in a new situation. Nonetheless, there’s always that little bit of doubt, usually because some other pony at some other time has done something I completely didn’t expect! Today I had a challenging start to my day, so I wasn’t able to put the mares and foals out to graze like I usually do. When I finally got freed up about 2:30 in the afternoon, I decided to do something new for them. For a while I questioned my decision, but in the end it worked out!
The something new was to take them to a part of the property they hadn’t grazed before which is quite a ways away from where they’ve been grazing the past month. To begin the adventure, I haltered the two most dominant mares but let six ponies total out the gate, one additional mare and the three foals. We then began walking down the road. All three foals cavorted around us, but the third mare was quickly left behind as she grazed along the verges. When we went farther than usual and disappeared from sight, I heard her call to us and then come trotting down the road to rejoin us just as we were getting to the destination. So far, so good!
I let my two haltered friends loose, and all six seemed happy with the new grazing opportunity. I returned to the house and fed the last three ponies, scoring a really nice hug from my stallion in the process. Then I went in to get a much needed and overdue lunch.
I needed to run to town to do some errands, so I headed out after lunch. I drove through the gate, then a nagging thought wouldn’t leave me. The ponies hadn’t been where I’d left them when I passed by, and I hadn’t seen them anywhere else. I got halfway to the highway and turned around, thinking I’d best know where they were before being gone for an extended period.
I found them fairly quickly; they had moved around a corner of the clearcut into an area I’d never seen them graze before. All was well, but since it was a new area for them, I didn’t know where they might move to next. They could choose to move closer to the house or farther away, and I needed to know which they would choose as the day transitioned toward evening. I once had a mare and stallion who went away from the house and went visiting neighbors, an experience I wasn’t interested in repeating. I aborted my trip to town and instead ran a short errand and came back to check on them, then did the same again. By that second check, they had moved slightly towards the house, with the lead mare headed toward an area she was familiar with, so I decided I could move on to other things and didn’t need to check on them again. The discovery of some wild strawberries that were incredibly tasty confirmed that things were heading in the right direction!
Around 7:30pm, before the sun began to set, I went outside to begin my last chores of the day. I was about 45 minutes early, but I wanted to give myself plenty of time in case the ponies had done something unexpected. Almost immediately that concern was put to rest when I heard a foal call at a distance and then a mare answer similarly far away. If I could hear them, I could easily find them before dark, so I continued with my chores. I put hay in the first mare/foal paddock, and as I was filling a tub for the second paddock, I heard a strange noise. Then I realized it was rapid and multiple hoofbeats. Very soon thereafter my heart pony and her foal cantered straight to me and stopped. I led them to their gate and put them in after thanking them for making my life easy. Then a second mare and her foal presented themselves, and I led them to their paddock and put them in, also thanking them. And then the third mare arrived with her foal and I did similarly, again with no tack, just cooperation. I felt triumphant! I’d tried something new, and it had worked out well for all of us!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019
You can find more stories like this one in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.