Nearly six months of planning paid off on the day we transported nine Willowtrail Fell Ponies from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to our new home at Scotty Springs Ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. One trailer with three box stalls housed the three mares with their foals, and another trailer brought the stallion and two more mares. The trip took seven hours, with the first few in intense wind, first at the head, then at the tail. My friend and Scotty Springs Ranch co-owner Linda Murdock drove the big load, and I drove the smaller one. We got off later than I’d hoped and pulled in after dark at 9:30pm.
I couldn’t have been more pleased with how the ponies handled the trip. The mares and foals all loaded into the unfamiliar trailer with little hesitation, despite it smelling strongly of cattle, which are its normal occupants. Then in the other trailer, I devised a divider to allow two mares to lower their heads to eat without the dominant one picking on the lower ranking one. At the other end of the trip, everyone unloaded without issue, taking deep breathes of their new surroundings while I walked them around their overnight housing and introduced them to automatic waterers which they’d never seen before and which the Murdocks graciously installed for the ponies’ use. The Murdocks also removed as many of the unfamiliar weeds from the paddocks as possible so that burrs and dry bits wouldn’t get stuck in the ponies’ hair. Nonetheless, a few ponies had adornments the next morning!
Bruce Murdock traveled ahead of us with hay bales from Colorado so the ponies would have familiar feed for the first few days. I of course also supplemented their feed buckets the morning of the trip (and several of the previous days) with various edibles to improve the ponies’ ability to cope with the stress of the journey, trusting that the foals would get some benefit via their mothers’ milk.
It was with great relief that I watched everyone tuck into their hay piles immediately after entering their overnight paddocks. I also was relieved when at least one mare in each paddock drank from the waterers, since I knew the others would follow suit at some point during the night. I was able to sleep peacefully after a tough drive.
With the long trip from old home to new complete, now we will get to explore this beautiful place and get to know it in depth. It will be an exciting journey of a more grounded sort!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019
More stories about life with my Fell Ponies can be found in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.