A Pony Named Lightning Part Four
The lessons Lightning had to teach us all, began early. Almost without exception, the many, many horses and ponies I have owned, each had a great deal to teach me and it wasn’t always about themselves or other horses. It was usually to do with the people involved. Most often one cannot even mention the word horse without an argument ensuing. The common denominator in these situations was not always me either. Emotions running high, people feeling very passionate about their way being the only way, and everyone having an opinion, plus everyone knowing for sure that they know almost everything, seems to be just how it is for almost everybody who has ever loved a horse, or as is the case here, a pony.
It had been relatively easy to say to my friend’s husband that no pony should ever come between us. Without saying so, he clearly believed they had been first to see Lightning advertised for sale and therefore should have first dibs on him. Who was I to disagree. No one, least of all myself, had expected me to get excited and within a matter of hours of seeing the advertisement, impulsively buy the pony over the phone, sight unseen, no vet check, husband not consulted, expense not considered. But I had. What I had not banked on when I pledged to my friends that I would make Lightning available to them to view and purchase, was In a very short time, actually only a matter of weeks, this nuggety little brown pony with no specific breeding worth mentioning, would worm his way into my heart like almost no other horse has. And that’s a very big call.
Maybe it was to do with the fact that this two year old pony adored our three year old grandson, and the feeling was mutual. Fergus immediately took on a huge pride of ownership. While Lightning could be quite wild and bit jumpy with us adults, he was donkey quiet and melted-butter soft with Fergus. Barely coming up to Lightning’s knees, Fergus strutted around him with brushes and hoof oil, telling us what we could do with his pony and what we could not. And it was as if even Lightning knew that whatever Fergus said counted.
Lightning was the first pony to teach me that looks and breeding really don't matter. He was the roughest little guy to look at. A mane like a barberry hedge that was almost untameable had the gorgeous young girl taking care of our horses spelling for the winter, pulling her own mane out in despair at trying to make him look like a loved Auckland pony. He was very long in the back. Ideal for lots of kids to line up on and catch a lift to school but almost comical for a reasonably well trained eye. He was bum high. Who doesn’t hate bum high. And his back legs were like something resembling a grasshopper. They were definitely horse legs at the back and pony legs in front. When the farrier shod him, one foot turned out. I’d get the farrier back and the other foot would turn out. There was something about Lightning’s feet that made good farrier’s look bad.
Our farm is well fenced but not well fenced enough to keep Lightning where we wanted him to stay. If there was action at the stables, Lightning would jump three or four full wire fences all with electric outriggers, to come and have a mosey or a bit of a chinwag. For a pony who just days earlier did not know what a carrot or hard feed was, he certainly learned very quickly. Probably worthy of mention here, is that Lightning had never worn a cover before and not even being heavily rugged up against the cold, stopped him from making his own arrangements about where on the farm he would be and what fences and gates would be jumped to facilitate his plans. My husband, who understandably at first was rather put out at not being involved, soon warmed to Lightning. Just to look at this pony, wisdom beyond his years written all over his beautiful face and evident in his enormous soft brown eyes, would make you smile.
The next big lesson that Lightning had in store for me, was to recognize when you simply must say ‘no’ and to say it with conviction and mean it. And also, I learned that in spite of what my head told me was the right thing to do, sometimes you must follow your heart.
The day arrived and my dear friends duly drove their enormous very flash horse truck up our drive, fortunately to collect their own horses, but also and more importantly to them to view Lightning. My stomach did flip flops. I could see them in the cab of the truck scanning the paddocks to catch their first look at him. Their own horses having wintered well and looking a picture of gleaming health, galloped alongside the truck in welcome, but my friends only had eyes for Lightning who had chosen to be on the other side of the drive away from the action, which in hindsight was weird. Did he know something was up?
What I learned, in the next five seconds would have been good to have learned earlier. It would have saved me weeks of angst and turmoil and agonizingly torturous stress. I learned at that very moment, it’s best to be honest. The truth really does nearly always seem to work. We had all barely said hello before my dear friend was asking where Lightning was hiding, and I blurted out, “We’ll bring him in for you to look at. But I’m just so sorry, he’s not for sale.”
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