"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Return of the Ponies (the Great Escape)

One of the several million things I had to do when I was making preparations for our year in Oaxaca was find somebody to take care of my ponies. Horse boarding at a real facility is prohibitively expensive, and so I needed to find a "care lease" type arrangement, where someone would be willing to care for my ponies more or less in exchange for the pleasure of having them around. I, of course, would provide the winter's hay, and an open account at the vet and with the farrier, but I couldn't actually afford to pay any real money. 

My friend B. came to the rescue, and very generously cared for my ponies all year long. She wanted somebody to keep her mini company, and she missed having horses around. She has both horse and veterinary backgrounds, and is an amazingly competent person in general, and so I never suffered the slightest twinge of worry about my girls the whole time I was gone. 

Although I couldn't pay her in cash, I wanted to offer at least SOME recompense, and so I asked her if she wanted my chickens. We had about a dozen layers who would be needing a new home. She did,  and so instead of selling them on Craigslist, I gave them to B. I was glad to see, when I went out to visit my ponies, that they have multiplied for her and she has a few young broods running around. 

Having my ponies back makes me very happy. A couple weeks ago, I met the farrier out at B.'s place and, after a trim for each of them, we trailered them up and brought them back. Poppy had only ever been in a trailer once before, when we took her out to B.'s a year before. On that occasion, it took us a half hour to get her to go in the trailer, and I was expecting something similar this time around, but in fact, she watched her mom go in and then hopped right up. 

When she came out again at my place, however, she was an eye-rolling, sweat-flecked, trembling mess.  We put the ponies in the small pasture, petted them and fussed over them, gave them apples, and left them alone to settle down. Several hours later, as I was settling into a hot bath, I got a phone call from my neighbor. 

"Aimee? Hi, um, your horse, she is in my garden." 

The children swear up and down they didn't leave the gate open, but open it was, and both ponies had gotten out. Rosie was quietly cropping grass in her own backyard, but Poppy was charging around the neighbor's property at approximately forty miles and hour, snorting and zig-zagging and kicking up clods of his well-manicured turf. 

Ten minutes of shambling slowly toward Poppy, getting closer and closer, only to have her suddenly tear by me and head off in an unexpected direction was enough to convince me that nobody was going to catch that pony until she calmed down and decided to go home on her own. I only hoped she remembered home well enough to get there when she felt like it. Rowan and I decided the best we could do was try to stay between Poppy and the road, and wave our arms threateningly if she looked like she was going to break for the state highway.

The neighbors came out of their houses and we all stood there in the evening gloom, watching Poppy canter back and forth along the fenceline, head and tail up, mane flying, lifting her feet high and occasionally stopping to test the wind. She sure is a beautiful mover. 

After a while, She whinnied a high screamy whinney, and her mom, Rosie, answered from the pasture, where we had put her away. Then Poppy seemed to remember where she was and suddenly raced around the neighbor's home, went straight over the top of his septic mound, and ran home. She waited at the gate until us two-footed types made our way slowly through the orchard and came up alongside her. Then she stepped pertly back into the pasture and started nuzzling on her mom. 

Since then, she's been perfectly content. The girls have taken to climbing the gate and helping each other up onto her back. Poppy doesn't care one way or the other, she just goes on grazing whether there is one little girl on her back, or two, or none at all. It really is time to get her training underway. I bought a bridle with long reins, made for carting, and I need to get to work introducing her to the whole idea of a bit. 

I should probably be out there right now, in fact. 


Andy Brown said...

So the neighbors know you're back.