Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Little Ponies

Renovations to the basement of the Ruddy Beast are now complete, so David and I have finally been unpacking the last of our boxes. These contain mostly books, CDs, miscellaneous stuff we probably don't need if it's been in storage for two years, and lots of oldskool photographs. One album from 1998 had portraits of all my ponies that summer. EvenSong mentioned that they looked well-cared-for the other day, and I have to agree. While I hated to work them as hard as we did, the park owners are astute business folks who understood that caring for the animals was within their best interest. My most persistent problem was with girth and saddle galls -- big ticket problems like teeth, feet, worming and feed were always covered. Furthermore the footing around the ride was great, and the ride itself was designed to be pleasant for the animals (not the mention the staff, kids and parents). It meandered through little rolling hills with shrubs and greenery -- not the dusty hot-walker-style circle you so often see. These pictures from the end of the season show how well we were able to maintain them through their long, hot and demanding summers. They spend their winters on the park owners' ranch in eastern Ontario, and any pony that works on the ride has a guaranteed retirement home there.

Here is Bubba as a 4-year-old. Any successful pony ride pony has a sweet and willing personality, but he really was (and probably still is) a cutie pie.

This is Teddy, who was just fantastic. I can't say enough good things about this pony. We got him in 1996 and he never put a foot wrong. The other staff used to call me "The Pony Whisperer" and on one of my days off someone scrawled "The Pony Whisperer says that Teddy is da BOMB!" on our tack room wall. I wonder if it's still there.

This is Zeddy, who was bought at auction with Bubba in 1998. Another great guy, and built like a brick shit house. He never caused me any trouble, and he would have made some kid a fantastic little riding pony (I rode him often, and he was super willing).

And this is Spot, who was my best success story (and my favorite pony). He was new in my first summer, and very timid about the kids, the cameras, the environment, the other ponies -- you name it, and he would spook at it. Spookiness is a problem in pony ride ponies, but he had such a sweet personality that I committed to helping him succeed. If he was in the ring I was the only one I trusted to handle him (and kids and parents) through a spook, but after six weeks of treating him with calm confidence he caught on and became really reliable. These animals really do draw a lot of their attitude from trusted handlers. More pictures to follow one day when I need material.


Brandy said...

Oh, aren't they wonderful! Spot looks a bit on the fugly side, but I like his black leggies! And Teddy looks like the horse I would choose for a pony ride in my childhood! Zeddy is just too adorable! What a sweet face!

Ponies are so smart, it cracks me up that people think children can handle them on their own! It sounds like you did great work there. And I'm glad that these hard workers not only get a dream winter vacation, but also a forever home. It's just good management!

Black Jack's Carol said...

Have to appreciate that these ponies had it so good, and also that they'll be retired in comfort! The pony whisperer, huh? Not surprised at all.

dp said...

Did you call my spot fugly?!?

Actually, quite a few of the ponies were fuglies, but they were all geldings. Most were bought at actions based on their temperaments more than their looks. Teddy and Zeddy were the best assembled of the group.