I’ve noted recently, that Dodger, my ancient Shetland pony, was feeling his age. I was thinking about how sad it was that very soon he would probably give up his reign as KING to the other hooligan Shetland, Slick (horsegods forbid!).
You see, I had noticed that Dodger was letting Slick get away with too much. Slick was snagging food out of Dodger’s bowl (that NEVER happened previously), Slick was eating first and Slick was starting to not pay attention to Dodger’s ears.
Hmmmmm. This was very, very bad indeed.
I thought Dodger was on his way out. After all, he had ‘old man lips’ when I rescued him and that was over 20 years ago (no vet can age him because his teeth have an additional groove which throws them all off…).
IT HADN’T OCCURRED TO ME…
It hadn’t occurred to me that Dodger’s sudden illness erupted at just about exactly the same time that I blocked him out of his favorite pasture.
The three of them (Dodger, Slick and Norma) have all shared the front TWO pastures for years. Sometimes a big horse would joint them in there, but mostly, the front two pastures were joined to create a huge PONYOPOLIS – and they loved it. In the mornings, they would eat by the barnmost corner and then mosey off into the opposite corner for naps in their preferred shelter. In the afternoon, they’d wander all over…
The three were happy.
But on September 29th, I locked the threesome out of the larger side of the Ponyopolis to make room for the newest addition to the family: Annie.
I needed a large but safe place for a big, never handled, pregnant mare to live while I got to know her. So, I picked the large half of the Ponyopolis.
And this upset Dodger, evidently…
How do I know?
I DECIDED TO LET THE PONIES AND NORMA – OUT
One day last week, I decided to let the ponies and Norma out. I hadn’t done this in a while due to the immense amount of acorns around. But, for some reason, I felt it was their time.
I opened the gate to their miniponyopolis.
Dodger burst through the opening like he was fired out of a cannon! His little pony legs carried him at remarkable speeds all the way around the house and garage at least 4 times. He loopdelooed the front lawn, all the trees, ran to the barn and got into Wrigley’s face for a horse2pony epic battle.
Dodger was back!
He spent 4 hours being KING and he loved every second!
AND THEN IT HIT ME…
I’m so dense. Dodger wasn’t letting his age get to him… he was letting his sadness get to him. He had melancholy. I had taken away half of his domain and given it to some strange mare. He was sad and probably didn’t understand why I would do this to him.
But giving him an open gate – to conquer the ranch – revived him!
Running around free will do that for a pony’s soul.
AND SINCE THEN
This was last week… I stood with awe, realizing what a dunce I had been to think that all of a sudden Dodger was ‘old’. I should have asked him what was wrong.
Since that day, I have let him out – to wreak havoc and fight with everyone – once a week. So, twice now. And, he is much, much happier. Back to his old self.
It wasn’t his body that was sick, it was his heart.
Does that make so much sense ….!
One of my horses recently developed breathing issues. We had taken her off the pasture because the perimeter fence needed to be installed. The horses had to hang out in a smaller paddock for a few weeks and only got to hand-graze. I truly feel my mare felt ‘restricted’, she had lived in large pastures all her life.
Since the fence is up and she is free to roam she seems so much better.
They tell us when we listen Dawn. And you and I are pretty god listeners (even if it occasionally takes us a moment ;-)