One would think that we had learned our lesson with Beau Pony. Ponies are not to be trifled with, but as we watched the little demon staring longingly across the fence at the happy couple (Rio and Odessa at this point), we felt sorry for him. Since he was still a stud, and a beautiful animal with good confirmation at that, Darling Husband felt that Beau Pony deserved a girlfriend (how cute would a tinier version of the miniature Satan be?). It didn’t take long before he had found a likely candidate on Craigslist.
This pony was located practically in our backyard (only 15 minutes away), Apple Jack’s owner ushered us right through the middle of her home, rather than having us walk around to the gate. In addition to being a horse lover, she also loved birds (2 blue macaw, 2 sun conures), cats (I didn’t get an accurate count), and dogs (4 small ones of the yappy variety). It was hard to take the dogs seriously when all were wearing triangles around their necks, constructed from wooden paint stirs. Apparently the creatures were small enough to make it through the slats of her white picket fence, and the paint stir collars prevented their escape into the barnyard (a unique solution to the problem).
Apple Jack’s owner had unfortunately been caught up in a layoff. Even though she had recently purchased Apple Jack, she now found herself in a situation that required downsizing her herd (6 ponies, 4 full size horses) into something a little more manageable on a reduced income, and Apple Jack was one of the newest members (therefore easiest to part with). She was a very nice lady and keeps in touch periodically to check up on her former charge (a true animal lover).
Apple Jack came to us practically wild. She hadn’t been handled much, but you could call her halter broke in the most basic sense of the phrase. Once she was released on the property, it took a good two weeks of sitting quietly in the paddock and offering feed to convince her to approach us. Of course her maniac suitor wasn’t much help. Beau Pony couldn’t believe his luck, his very own pasture mate for probably the first time in his life.
Beau showed off, he chased Apple Jack around, delivered stallion love bites, and showed absolutely no sense of propriety. Within a month the tables had turned though, and like many new husbands, Beau Pony quickly learned who was now running the show. Apple Jack delivered so many double barreled blows to Beau for his impertinence in the first few weeks, we wondered if the whole experiment had been a mistake. Eventually they settled into a harmonious little existence, but once they were content with each other, it became Beau and Apple Jack against the world (aka horses across the fence).
Even though our fencing situation had improved, it didn’t take long for the ponies to learn how to work gate latches. In fact, we’ve been through several versions before resorting to old faithful (chain wrapped around gate and post). Once Lucifer and his lady Lilith made it into the adjoining pasture, they quickly made their rounds ears pinned, teeth bared until they had chased the larger horses from their grazing spots. When they were bored with grazing, the ponies would amuse themselves biting, kicking, and squealing at everyone in the pasture. Ruthless bravado is apparently an effective tactic proven by both history (Napoleon) and ponies. Luckily, sweet feed is pony kryptonite, and these little forays into the larger pasture were short lived with the simple rattle of pellets and molasses.
Notwithstanding their shenanigans, Beau and Apple Jack are treasured members of the Gardner farm. They provide the vital service of mowing my yard, so I don’t have to, and provide great fertilizer for my various failures at gardening. The ponies even keep my rose bushes under control and are quite effective at keeping the dogs in check as well. If we thought Beau and Apple Jack were adorable individually, nothing could prepare us for the cuteness overload of their offspring.
Despite having taken photographs (National Geographic style) of the conception, Darling Husband somehow confused Apple Jack’s due date. He neglected to check the timestamp on the footage, and we were on foal watch at least two months early. Darling Husband even installed wireless cameras in the barn so we could watch Apple Jack from our phones 24/7. We didn’t use a baby monitor for Jasper, but the pony was covered.
I suspect Tater Tot was just waiting for me to be away on a business trip before gracing the world with her presence (not even out of the womb and already plotting world domination). Tater Tot is hands down one of the cutest creatures I ever laid eyes on (second only to my offspring, but I’m biased). My offspring plus Apple Jack’s offspring equals photography gold!
The combination of Beau and Apple Jack seemed like a great idea in theory, but in reality breeding two ponies with egos the size of China was a recipe for disaster. Fueled by her cuteness and the fact that no animal on the farm will harm a baby, created a monster. Tater is oblivious to the fact that the larger horses could stomp her. She thinks nothing of bullying her way into any feed pan, and then turns ears pinned, legs cocked to kick the horse she’s pilfering from. Tater demands to be worshiped by all, and will boisterously let you know when she feels neglected. She’s also quite accomplished at operating gate and door latches a trait doubtlessly inherited from her parents.
As cute as Tater is, she will not be getting more siblings any time soon. We’ve learned our lesson (admittedly our memories are short). Currently our focus is on teaching Apple Jack some manners, and adding to her lawn mowing duties. She is being worked in harness (ground driving for now), and will hopefully be our second cart trained pony by spring. Unsupervised and being weaned, Tater Tot’s running around wreaking havoc wherever she goes keeping the farm residents on their toes (or hooves).