Partnered Pony Blog

Posts tagged Fell Pony
Apple Seeds

After I eat an apple for breakfast, I divide the quartered core between the ponies.  It hadn’t ever occurred to me that there might be a problem with this until I read the headline, “Are Apple Seeds Bad for Horses?”  It took me a few days to get around to reading the article, so I kept wondering what I would learn.  Also, I have an end-of-year holiday ritual called ‘wassailing the ponies’ that includes feeding apples to my ponies, so I was very curious if I could safely continue the ritual.

Wassailing Madie in 2017

Wassailing Madie in 2017

It turns out that apple seeds have a very small amount of cyanide in them.  That fact was the inspiration for the article whose headline I saw.  The author concluded that it would take a dose of upwards of 270 apple seeds to harm a 200 pound human, so a vast number to harm an equine.  Most apples contain 20 seeds or less, so it’s very unlikely that a human or equine could suffer adverse consequences from apple seeds under normal circumstances.  Other fruit pits are more problematic, including peaches, plums, and apricots – more for their fibrous nature than the cyanide they contain.  (1)

So I will continue my habit of sharing my breakfast fruit with my ponies, and I will continue my wassailing ritual.  The ponies and I will all be happy!

  1. Thunes, Clair.  “Are Apple Seeds Bad for Horses?,” article #171544,, 5/6/19.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019

More stories like this one can be found in my book The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical and Powerful with Small Equines, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.

Seeing Them

We were pressed for time, and my husband kindly offered to help me with my long list of departure chores.  “I could go check the ponies at pasture for you,” he said.  I declined his generous offer, and when he asked why, I replied, “I want to see them.”

170912 Madie Tracey.JPG

Of course, when I go to pasture, I do more than just see my ponies.  While I do indeed look at them, I am also checking the amount of available forage, their minerals and their access to water.  But I also monitor their behavior.  I evaluate their movement.  I observe their interactions. I look for, and hope I don’t see, deviations from ‘normal.’  And ‘normal’ is a state I’ve defined from countless similar times that I’ve been to ‘see’ my ponies at pasture.  Checking the ponies at pasture, I’ve learned, isn’t a chore I can completely delegate, at least when it comes to satisfying my need for information about them.

In addition, of course, when I go see the ponies at pasture, they also get to see me.  It’s not uncommon when they hear my arrival for my two youngest, homebred mares to run more than a hundred yards, through willow thickets, up and down through drainages, and across the river until they reach me.  I know they don’t have to respond this way because I’ve had ponies who barely lifted their heads from grazing to acknowledge my presence.  Even my colts, less than half a year old, often run towards the nearest fence when they know I’ve arrived.  Seeing my ponies so willingly coming to greet me is of course one of the things that makes going to see them not a chore but a pleasure.  And it makes me believe that seeing them is something they value as much as I do.

When my husband says he’s been to see the ponies, no matter whether they’re in a paddock at home or at summer pasture, he will often immediately feel like he’s being interrogated.  Who did you see?  How were they?  What were they doing?  Where were they when you saw them?  My questions of course are an attempt to get the full range of information that I get from ‘seeing,’ not just the simple results of a visual roll call.

My husband loves to visit the ponies, so I know he’ll offer again to check them for me to help me with my always lengthy to-do list.  Perhaps I will accept his kind offer.  But more likely, I’ll decline, and then say again that I want to see them, with all the meaning that those words imply.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018

You can find more stories like this one in my books The Partnered Pony and What an Honor, available internationally by clicking on the book covers or titles.

Superwoman Pony
1807 Superwoman pony by Jared.jpg

My husband’s grandchildren came for their annual summer visit.  Two years before, they’d enjoyed spending time with the ponies, but last year not so much, so I stayed focused on preparing dinner when they arrived.  I didn’t want to be disappointed by their lack of interest, so I was thrilled when I learned their interest had been renewed.

My husband’s son says that his youngest, the only daughter, is often the leader when it comes to new or unusual experiences, so I expect I have her to thank.  The kids were feeding grass through the fence to all the ponies near the house, and one in particular they had named Superwoman.  I’m sure Rose earned that name by strongly and repeatedly running the other ponies off when grass was being offered.  The increased sophistication of the naming was notable.  Two years before, Rose had earned the name Spot because she has a white star.  Another pony they called Noddy because she would bob her head when she thought grass was coming her way.

After dinner, I went out to feed and joined the kids and adults at the fence to see the interactions.  When the attraction of the ponies and especially Superwoman to the youngest became apparent, I asked if she wanted to ride her.  A smile slowly spread across her face, so I went to grab a halter then quickly ducked through the fence and hopped on Rose’s back to make sure she was in the right frame of mind since I hadn’t been on her back in weeks.  She was her normal, calm, and cooperative self, so I led her back to the crowd, and Grandpa lifted granddaughter onto Superwoman Pony’s back.  As I led Rose in a large circle with father and grandfather walking on either side of the precious cargo, I regularly checked on our passenger.  Her smile kept growing, and it was amazing to see how naturally she sat.  When I lifted her down, I told her she was the only one besides me who’d ever ridden Superwoman Pony.  I was rewarded with another beautiful smile.

Having watched his sister having fun and getting attention, the oldest brother then said he wanted a ride.  He’d just returned from summer camp where horseback riding was in the top five favorite activities of the week.  I thought perhaps the lead-reining on a pony that I was offering would be too tame by comparison, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy his ride on Superwoman pony, too.  Not to be left out, brother number two quietly took a ride, too.  The boys sat as naturally on Rose as their sister had.  And brother number two, normally quiet and stone-faced, had a smile that almost equaled his sister’s at the end of his ride.

Darkness was falling, so our pony time came to an end, but my day had been made by the kids’ interest in my hooved friends.

The next day was the last day of their stay.  We had been away at work all day, and I was exhausted and had to go to bed.  What I learned second-hand, though, made my day again.  Grandpa had gone to their cabin to say goodbye, and as dusk approached, the kids said they wanted to come say goodbye to the ponies.  Despite protests from the adults about the late hour, they did just that.  I am grateful to Superwoman Pony for making such an impression on city kids who have so many different opportunities.  I’ll hope that next year they’ll return, and Superwoman Pony can reprise her role.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018

More stories like this one can be found in my books The Partnered Pony and What an Honor, available by clicking on the titles or book covers.