dIn my last year of high school I got a summer job managing the pony ride at a local amusement park. The 60+ hour work week was grueling for both me and the ponies, but it paid much more than $500/summer. I actually kept that job throughout my undergraduate degree because it also paid more than good summertime engineering positions (especially because I was living with my generous parents in Toronto instead of paying rent in Vancouver). Most other ride managers were university students working hard to support their educations, and we had a lot of fun in our scarce spare time.
The pony ride had 10 - 12 ponies that I would rotate as fairly as possible (never fairly enough). When not working they lived in a paddock at the petting zoo along with an insane zony (a zebra crossed with a pony) and an ornery zonkey (you do the math). To maximize efficiency while minimizing wastage I fed them all by hanging 6 - 8 stuffed hay nets around the paddock each morning and evening. When you multiply this by six days per week, 12 weeks per year for 5 years you might believe my claim to being the fastest hay netter in the west (this lady is doing it wrong).
We are using hay nets to minimize wastage in the shelter*, and I think of my ponies every time I fill them. Some of them were with me every summer (the picture above was taken long after my time in 2005, but the bay is Bubba who I trained in 1998 when he was 4), and that job gave me an immense respect for the pluck and personality of the little guys (they were all geldings). One day I would like to give an old pony a retirement home, in honour of their hard work for me over the years.
*The horses love the shelter again. David is convinced that they are just messing with my head, and I am beginning to believe him. Either way, Tom is coming out on Wednesday to put crusher dust around the whole thing, and to make a path up from the south end of the paddock.