My little Pony! A Cautionary Tale.
The Free Pony
May I have a pony? My friend Jill has one that she needs to retire from show jumping so she would be almost free and we have a big orchard that you have to mow all the time, think how great it would be if you didn’t have to do that, think of all the spare time you would have.
After deep consideration, Daddy agreed to give the old mare, Honey a good home in the orchard. I was thrilled and glowed with pleasure. We had to buy an electric fence so that she didn’t gorge on the grass and get Laminitis in her hooves, a very painful swelling caused by too much lush grass.
Please Daddy, may I have a crash helmet and some jodhpurs so I’ll be safe while riding Honey. Daddy arranged for me to buy the riding clothes at the local Saddlers. “ I expect you’ll need a saddle and bridle too so you can ride Honey “, said Daddy. I could hardly contain my excitement. After a very expensive shopping spree we staggered out with the aforementioned Saddle and Bridle and a host of extras the proprietor of the shop suggested we would find essential for the safe keeping of the pony, a head collar and lead rope, fly fringe and two buckets, one for water and one for her pony nuts. He gave us a hoof pick.
The bucket looked very empty so I suggested that a visit to the feed shop might be a good idea. Daddy helped me load the bag of nuts, a bale of hay and some vitamins. The salesman also recommended a strangely smelling hoof ointment too, “ So good for strong feet” he said, “makes them real shiny”. We realized we didn’t have any grooming kit so back we went to the saddle shop. Expensive Dandy and body brushes, combs and other accoutrements a well turned out pony needs joined the free hoof pick in a natty basket pointed out by the helpful salesman.
The night Honey arrived, it started to rain. The whole family looked out at poor Honey standing miserably under a sparse apple tree with her tail clamped between her hind legs. It didn’t need to be said, she needed a shelter. We set out for the wood yard where they sold modular stables, “Very good price, Sir” said the salesman. We struggled home with the assorted planks tied to Daddy’s trucks, it was then that we realized we would need a concrete base. “Know just the chap” said the salesman.
Next day a huge rotary concrete mixer truck turned up at the house. It was so big that it had to be driven over the lawn, already made soft by the rain, to reach the orchard. It took several days for the base to set which gave Daddy time to arrange for the ruined lawn to be returfed.
The stable was a great success. Honey wandered in and out of it. “Straw!” I shouted, “she needs straw to be able to lie down”. So back to the feed store we went to buy a bale of straw. The proprietor promised to deliver the rest of our purchases the next day. More hay, a haynet more straw and essentials like a pitch fork and shovel for mucking out. We arranged a site for the muck heap near the vegetable patch. He stocked saddle soap to clean her tack and oil of citronella to keep off the flies. He also sold us a neat first aid kit, “just in case!”
“Now we have everything covered” said Daddy with a sigh as he stacked up the receipts for everything we had bought so far. It was when I was picking out Honey’s feet with the gift hoof pick that I noticed that she had lost a shoe and her feet looked very long. “ That will be $80.00 “ said the farrier straightening his back, “I’ve knocked a bit off the price as it’s the first time” “Oh “ groaned Daddy as he wrote the check. “Every six weeks is a good interval between visits” shouted the farrier as he drove off in his brand new truck. Daddy groaned again.
Honey just looked very content, looking down at her newly manicured hooves. Nobody realized just what was entailed in keeping our gift horse in the orchard. But it was too late, we had all fallen in love with our beautiful pony. She whinnied with pleasure when anyone appeared and gazed expectantly at the house if she heard a noise. Otis the dog loved her and the cat sat on the stable door and kept her company while she slept. Daddy’s eyes just rolled in disbelief every time he looked at the “free” pony!