Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Horse I.Q. Tests

Cute. Cuddly. And clever!

Horses are smart.
A little too smart.
At times, they are almost human in their need to be entertained.
Their ability to problem solve.
And their dislike of anything work-related.
Especially ponies.
The height-challenged members of the horse family.
One such pony, Shay, a little grey Welsh/Arab, was uncannily adept at removing riders.
She would run herself along the fence wall, scrubbing off any hapless humans who may have been astride.
Or, barring that, would duck her head and drop her rider . . . any rider . . . onto the ground.
Fortunately, it was a short drop.
In fact, she was so clever at removal, that the only way she could be controlled was to blindfold her.
That made for an interesting ride.
Nipper, a small, black Shetland cross had his own way of avoiding work.
Once his rider was aboard, he would immediately scurry – and I do mean scurry – under the clotheslines.
I should probably mention that there wasn't a lot of clearance.
Many a rider was quickly and neatly - with almost surgical precision – removed.
His patented technique was foiled however, when his rider, my sister, learned to duck.
Surprise turned to chagrin when he looked back after a clothesline pass and realized that his rider was still aboard.
Back to the drawing board.
Pinto, our cleverly named black and white Shetland pony, had the unique ability to ignore all attempts at enforcing a forward direction.
Or any form of speed.
Cajoling.
Kicking.
Shouting and screaming in frustration.
He was happily oblivious.
His downfall came when his rider – me – learned to lead him far, far from home.
Then mount up and turn his head back towards the barn.
Man, those little legs could go.
Star, another Shetland with a – go figure – star on his forehead, was actually quite well-mannered.
Until there were other horses around.
He was definitely one who was influenced by the company he kept.
Then his innate talent would show itself.
He could ignore any and all attempts at enforcement-by-rein and follow the crowd.
Carrying his little, red-faced passenger to the nearest far-away place.
When these ponies weren't being called upon to perform menial service, they could be found, at any and all hours, with their heads in the feed trough.
The only thing that surpassed their ability to avoid work was their ability to eat.
Why did we keep them around?
They were short and easy to get on.
They were gentle.
And if we could make them do what we wanted, we could handle any problem.
Anytime.
Anywhere.
Education by pony.
It should be a course in college.

3 comments:

  1. Diane, you were blessed to have so many ponies you could ride, a young girl from the city would have loved that... of course we would have been immediately dropped of the horse/pony in quick fashion:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear ponies. My kind of horse. Pets I can clean and walk with and nuzzle with and feed apples to.
    I can find no fault in these little guys. Just don't step on my feet ! lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think of all the mini horses we had, Rebel was the worst. I remember taking him (he happened to be the only horse in the barn) out to move some heifers from one field to the next. A 5 minute job--tops. Well, I spent 5 minutes just showing him that I was in charge. When he found out that disobedience was rewarded with pain, he minded. And we got along just fine.

    ReplyDelete

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