Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Pony called Lightning

by Linda Benson (a repost from the past - about ponies.)

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 years ago we had 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 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 very well-trained 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 has grown into a beautiful woman who will soon be getting married. But neither of us will forget the little pony who simply walked up the driveway one day. LIGHTNING!

Have you had a good pony in your life? Or a bad one? One that you learned a lot from?


Laura Crum said...

Aww--What a great pony. And what a magical story about how he came to you!

Linda Benson said...

Yes, some things in life can never be explained. It was just meant to be, I guess. How lucky we were to get that fine pony (especially when we barely had two nickels to rub together.) :-)

Unknown said...

Really makes you wonder what his story was, doesn't it? I mean before he was lucky enough to find your family.
I have a dog and a horse both who are so special in their own way. The dog is a pound rescue and the horse is a rescue from Oregon. They are the most amazing animals and every day as I interact with them I wonder who they used to be.

Linda Benson said...

I know, Cindy. I always think the same thing. If only animals could speak our language. What tales they could tell! :-)

AareneX said...

Linda, what an AWESOME story. I often consider that the folks who show up "accidentally" in our lives are a sort of postcard from God.

And good luck at the endurance ride!

Linda Benson said...

AaraenX - I love that sentiment - a postcard from God. Awesome! And I'll pass along your good wishes to my daughter. I am very excited for her, too. ;)

Boss Mare Eventing said...

What a great story....and such a lucky find for both! Love the name Lightening...what a cutie!

Dreaming said...

Lightning knew where he was needed! How lucky for you, and your children, to have a pony from God show up like that!
One of my friends had a very old pony - she figures he was at least 35 - who taught most of the neighborhood kids to ride. The fun thing was that Trigger would only let a child under 6 years of age catch him in pasture!

Lisa G said...

I had a little pony like that once. Her name was Spunky and she lived about two blocks from me, but only about two hundred yards through the back and side yards. She was an only pony and kept rolling under the fence to stand with my mare, also an onlt horse. Finaly her owner called me adn asked did I want to buy her-for $50.00! This little pony had raised six kids and like Lightening was broke to the heart. I didn't have any children then and only kept Spunky about two years, then I gave her to my best friend who had a little girl two. She kept her till she died. Wonderful little pony and a pearl beyond price.

Linda Benson said...

BeBe - thanks for dropping by. Yes, we all loved the name "Lightning" too. It gave us adults a good chuckle.

Dreaming - Trigger sounds like he was pretty wise. I think Lightning was a pretty old pony, too, but he always kept up with the big horses when we went for a trail ride. It was great!

Lisa G - Spunky sounds wonderful, and your comment is spot on - a good kid's pony is a pearl beyond price.

FD said...

The bad rap thing is a USA thing, I think. Personally, I love ponies. I stayed small enough to ride them well into my thirties and there's nothing like a really good pony - the hardiness, the sense, the ability to take care of themselves and you, the athleticism relative to their size... do you have a JA showjumping equivalent in the states? It's eye opening if you've never seen it.
I ask because when I've been in the USA I've seen a lot of kids riding what I'd call small, (and not so small!) horses and to my UK eye they look grossly overmounted and I've never understood why. Sure, occasionally there will be a stinker of a pony but over here there's never a shortage of tough minded olderish kids who can put some miles on them. And having done so, a pony owner can regularly expect that pony to go on to teach the rest of tbe family, plus assorted cousins and neighbors and friends of friends kids. Plus they are cheaper to run, sounder and live longer.

FD said...

Erm, just realised that comment came across as rather evangelical, no offence intended, it's just something that's always baffled me!

Linda Benson said...

FD - thanks for chiming in and your comments are quite welcome. This points out, I think, both the regional and global differences in what we value. Although the east coast of the U.S. might have more shows, classes, etc. for ponies, the west (where I am from) has few, especially in rural areas.

Of course, a well-trained equine of any size will (usually) find a home (although nothing is a given in today's horse market,) there are many, many young horses and ponies here with little or no training. And those are very difficult to place.

And I think we have a shortage of brave older kids to train them. They are all on their cell phones! *sigh*