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Pony is a Verb, Season Two

Published: 4/13/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

The circus is back in town.
I’ve started ponying the horses back and forth from my neighbor’s field.
As some readers may know, ponying a la Gray can be an adventure.

Click here for previous article and video.

Untitled from Maddy Gray on Vimeo.

At the moment, I’ve decided to cut through the woods, down an old logging trail and onto the field instead of traveling up the road and across my neighbor’s yard like I did last year.
This decision is due to safety and neighborly concerns. Peppermint is new to ponying and I don’t want to deal with cars, motorbikes, and three horses all at once. Not yet, anyway.
Plus, with the ground so wet, we'd trash my neighbor’s nice lawn with a single pass.
So instead, we travel down the paved road, down the dirt road, across a trench, down the logging trail, cut through the woods, and into the field. Then, we’re there!
Good days, it takes 10 minutes.
Bad days, it takes longer.
Bad days:
  • When we're not all on the same page and we need to discuss situations.
  • When one horse gets loose and we have to lure her back to the team.
  • When horses decide they would rather spend a few more hours at the field. Thank you very much. Come back later when we're ready.
  • When this white girl loses her already lame ability to jump onto a 15 1/2 hand horse and has to find a natural mounting block somewhere in a field. (yeah, right.)

At first, I thought the new route would be easier.
That was before we negotiated The Trench for the first time.

The Trench is an innocuous-looking swale next to the dirt road. It drops off the road and is filled with mud and water. Here is a picture of it on a dry day. No big deal, right?
Spring jitters and horse camaraderie made it a big deal on a few days.
We approached it and Shea refused. I suggested she reconsider. She LEAPT across it.
Shea is half Belgian. Her leaps are not ballerina-esque, more like an out-of-shape, drunk guy scrambling over a Jersey barrier. Graceful, it ain't. And I'm not the biggest help, being a graceless rider and all.

Brooke and Peppermint followed, thankfully.

Riding bareback and jostling with leadlines, I was just happy to stay on and still have the two other horses in my hand.
Since they were being drama queens about it, I suggested we cross again and again until it became the trench and not The Trench.

We moved on...

Then there is the muddy logging trail path.
You know when you're moving through an area of mud or snow and you try to step lightly, quickly, even daintily, in the hopes that you can avoid sinking in?
Well, my horses seem to do the same thing – they’re definitely NOT happy with walking calmly through as they sink into a foot of mud with every step.
Brooke, the boss mare, likes to avoid it altogether. She’ll try to swerve way wide and walk through the underbrush, if she’s allowed.
I like a strong-minded horse, just not while ponying! Having discussions with a horse while ponying is like trying to give directions to your driver while ordering pizza from your cell phone. Plenty of room for mixed-up messages!Having discussions with a horse while ponying is like trying to give directions to your driver while ordering pizza from your cell phone. Plenty of room for mixed-up messages!

After the mud gauntlet, we have a stretch of dry woods. We like dry woods, except when one horse goes the wrong way around a tree. So I need to predict where they might want to go and keep them close and directed.
At this point, they're getting psyched.
They can see the sunny, green field. They can smell it. They can hear the new spring grass calling.
Hello?? Listen to me, please.
The final stretch is across the field. Their fenced-in section is a hundred yards yonder. Why - they seem to ask - can't we graze right here? If one of them drops her head to grab grass, her idea can be downright contagious.
Plus, there can be up to a dozen turkeys milling around the field. Those courting toms can seem bigger than dogs with blue and red heads and their puffed out plumage.
Ah, here they are at the field.
Don't they look content?

View Reader Comments:

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4/13/2010 Kim
Your article brought a smile ~ while I was remembering some of the antics that I have gone through ponying my horses over the last 10 years back and forth to their pasture! Too fun!
4/19/2010 Christine Giguere
That has got to be the greatest story I've read in a long while, been there and wish I could go back...brought me back many years though, I could actually feel it...LMAO...thanks for putting that old time smile back on my face! I would have done it all the very same way day after day just to see my horses happy and content, always made me feel well accomplished!
4/19/2010 Christine Giguere
The little Paint in this video "Pep" looks astonishing like my horse "Mac's Last Wind Storm" otherwise known as Storm. The similarity in markings and the tail are unreal alike!
4/19/2010 Missy
I watched this 3 times, so far. Chuckled every time You done good, girl! To me, it's like juggling buttered plates. You need four sets of eyes, lol. Thanks for sharing. Your description of the process is a riot! Better you than me, haha.
4/20/2010 Kathy
I enjoyed the video. Very handily done.

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    "Speak kindly to your little horse, and soothe him when he wheezes, or he may turn his back on you, and kick you where he pleases" - Anonymous