Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pony 101

My sister on Nipper. He of the quick feet. And sharp teeth.

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 was known for two things.
His little . . . nippy . . . teeth. Thus the name.
And 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-with-anger 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.
And Shammy. Pony Perfection. She without faults . . .

17 comments:

  1. Pony 101 - I like it!

    When my daughter was taking riding lessons, we both learned to keep one eye at all times on the resident Shetland. He did all the things you covered above in your mini-course. Plus got out of any stall he was put into. Clever, stubborn, exasperating ... and cute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. They're lucky they're cute. Like some kids I know . . . :)

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  2. My first attempt at pony riding was bareback, on a little pony named Pinto. His goal was always to unseat his rider--I wonder if that's just a pony trait? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely! Huh. A pony named Pinto. Remarkable coincidence! :)

      Delete
  3. Maybe they are just trying to get even with the universe for making them so short.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Short legs. Short Tempers? A good premise . . .

      Delete
  4. Your blog ought to be called "Ranch Education 101" --oh, the things we learn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'm so happy you join us to learn them, Carol! :)

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  5. So many ponies. My Shetland experience is limited to one led-around-a-ring-twice ride at a school fete one year. It was very boring so I never did it again. Much smaller kids loved it though. I think riding around a ranch sounds like much more fun than being led around a ring twice then getting off.

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    Replies
    1. Yow! I definitely agree! Being led around a ring?! How can that possibly compete with fighting to stay aboard or making your pony move at all?! :)

      Delete
  6. I love the names of all the ponies. You confirm what I have heard about ponies, stubborn and mean!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And too, too clever for their own good! :)

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  7. One of the best ways to get a horse to stop biting was to carry a hot potato out to the corral. Holding the potato in your hand (gloved hand--you don't want to be burned) you waited for the horse to deftly reach around to bite you. When his mouth opened, you shoved that potato in as far as you could. It would get the horse jumping around, whinnying and snorting. But after everything cooled down, the horse would never bite again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hot potatoes were the answer to so many things. Ill-mannered horses. Cold hands. Hungry kids. The Perfect food! :)

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  8. I've always dreamed of owning my own horse. Although I ridden other numerology. There's nothing like your own. Hubby is deathly afraid of them. Bad experience.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sad for your Husby! What a world he's missing out on! :)

      Delete
  9. I'd never heard the potato trick that George suggested - it makes sense - but poor pony with that burned roof of the mouth feeling! Great post - and what a great childhood to have!
    Diane, I can't believe how far behind I got reading your posts - must have spent longer cleaning the basement and doing some blog revisions than I thought!!

    ReplyDelete

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