by Linda Benson
Ponies in general get a bad rap, don't you think? Many of them, clever and mischievous by nature and too small for an adult to ride, never receive enough training to become solid citizens.
But Laura's post about her son's pony called Toby got me to thinking about a wonderful pony who came to us by chance, when my daughter was young.
I was a single mother at the time, living on a rural property where I had a small saddle shop behind my house. I also sold a horse or two, from time to time, to help with the rent and the groceries. We always had something to ride, but my daughter did not have a horse to call her own.
A neighbor phoned, asking if I knew anyone that was missing a little silver dappled pony that had just walked up her driveway. He was visiting with her two horses out back, and so she turned him in with them, so he wouldn't run loose all over the place.
Although a horse or pony getting loose (and other horse people catching them up) is not particularly strange, what was different about this pony is that no owner was ever found. After my friend went through the appropriate channels looking for an owner (animal control, feed stores, newspaper) she finally admitted she had no use for the pony, and did my daughter want it?
So the pony was walked down the road to our house, where my daughter tied it to a tree in the backyard and began to brush the little gelding. He stood probably only 11 hands, and after passing all the tests for gentleness, we progressed to saddling him, bridling him, leading her around, and eventually, turning over the reins to her. I expected him to be a typical little balking pony, who'd amount to nothing more than a lead-line mount. Surprise, surprise. This pony was broke to death!
This little gelding walked, trotted, and even cantered at my daughter's first cue. He stopped immediately for her, neck-reined like a pro, and the huge grin on my daughter's face as she put him through these paces was priceless. Here was a broke little horse, her own size, that did exactly what she asked! She was so proud!
I can't imagine who ever took the time to train a pony like this, and why no one was missing him. A person could search and search for just such an animal, and have a desperate time finding one. To a single mother, struggling to make ends meet, this was a gift from the heavens.
To make the deal legal, I think we paid my friend $50 for this pony, which my daughter promptly named Lightning. As you can see from the pictures, we eventually trusted the little guy to ride double, bareback (no, we never had helmets back then) and my daughter gained more confidence from that priceless little pony than you can ever imagine.
Now, my daughter is a beautiful young woman, who will compete in her very first endurance ride this Saturday. But we will never forget the story of the little pony who simply walked up the driveway one day. LIGHTNING!