Stall tactics

By Kris Ferrazza | Nov 19, 2019

The other day someone asked, “What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?” I thought half a minute and then chuckled. It’s probably one of those “you had to be there” kind of moments, but I’ll give it a shot.

A few winters ago it had snowed heavily, and we’d all been indoors too long. I went to the barn to let the pony outside. As I swung the back door open, we were hit by an exhilarating blast of fresh air and brilliant snow. I jumped out through the back door into a sparkling drift, followed closely by Teddy, who immediately dropped to the ground and kicked up his heels to make a snow angel.

As the aged pony got to his feet and shook, I saw a flash of red whiz past us. It was my husband, clearly up to no good. He ducked under the fence and trespassed into the pasture. He knew this intrusion would get the frisky pony to give chase, and Teddy did not disappoint.

He pinned back his ears, stretched out his neck and pursued my husband at a gallop, leaving a cloud of powder behind him. Tim ran fast enough to stay just out of reach, yet slow enough to remain within striking distance of the pony’s teeth. I doubled over with laughter. Like a bullfighter, Tim zigged and zagged, barely avoiding the charging pony.

It’s a memory I expect will make the highlight reel when my life flashes before my eyes as an old lady. I can’t help but wonder if Teddy saw it too when he went on to the big hayfield in the sky this summer.

Teddy was 37 years old when he passed, which is really old for a pony. I haven’t wanted to write about it for some reason. But when I recalled that funny memory, I knew he deserved a proper eulogy. So I’m done stalling.

My association with ponies goes back 40 years. It’s a love affair that started at age 10. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll share something I read somewhere that explains their charm.

God creating ponies:

God: “I want you to shrink a horse, make it adorable, and stuff a tornado inside.”

Angel: “Sounds dangerous.”

God: “Do it!

He did, and that was Teddy. There’s no doubt he was adorable with a tornado stuffed inside. He was the cutest thing, but with an edge that constantly let you know he was annoyed and you were the source of his annoyance. We couldn’t get enough of him.

I had been longing for a pony of my own, but insisted Teddy was for my daughter, who was a kindergartner at the time. As my husband prepared the barn, I told him, “Just think, you’re making a five-year-old girl’s dream come true!” He grumbled, “I think I’m making a 43-year-old girl’s dream come true…” and kept hammering.

On the day Teddy arrived, we all were smitten, especially our collie dog. Angus took his favorite ball into the pasture and dropped it at the pony’s feet. I still wonder if he was waiting for Teddy to throw the ball, or if it simply was a welcome gift.

Having a pony took me back to the happy days of my childhood. I fussed over Teddy, brushing him, feeding him peppermints and whispering sweet nothings into his fuzzy ears. I brought him apples, kissed his muzzle and let him nuzzle my cheek in return. It was a love story until the day I felt his teeth graze my cheekbone and exclaimed, “What the heck?!” He looked wide-eyed and innocent, but I never gave him the chance to do that again.

My daughter rode Teddy, and shared him with her friends. One day she and a school chum were riding bareback in the snow. Both girls were on Teddy’s back when he walked behind our chicken coop, but when he emerged from behind the building, he was riderless. My heart nearly stopped. I ran full speed to the coop to find both girls laughing and brushing snow off their pants. Fortunately the fluffy stuff had broken their fall.

There were birthday parties, pony rides and costumes. We dressed Teddy as a hippie for a groovy disco dance party and as a unicorn for a fairy party. Though it had rained, the sun came out the moment our “unicorn” emerged from the barn. Someone joked they half-expected a rainbow to shoot out of the golden horn we’d attached to his bridle.

Another year he galloped around the pasture, whinnying dramatically as party guests arrived, as if to say, “Don’t forget me!”

“Cue the magical pony,” my nephew quipped.

Our Teddy was magical and kept us laughing for eight wonderful years. One summer day my husband walked up and said, “Is it me, or does that apple tree have legs?” I looked up at our apple tree, and sure enough, it did have legs. Teddy was under it, with his head in the branches like a giraffe, eating Macs to his heart’s content.

Another year we bought top-quality hay for our pampered pasture pet, then eagerly watched to see if he’d enjoy it. He took one sniff then straddled it and urinated. I laughed until I cried.

My husband and I learned the true meaning of teamwork as we nursed the pony through two bouts of anaplasmosis. We gave him endless antibiotics (not an easy task) and learned how to take his temperature. (Hint: the thermometer doesn’t go into an ear.)

We had a few close calls too. One summer day, he refused to come inside during a violent storm. Instead, he stood in the middle of his pasture while lightning flashed all around. I thought we both might die that day.

One night, he didn’t come into the barn after dark, so I ventured out with a flashlight and found him lying still on the ground. As I approached, fearing he had died, the pony leapt to his feet and ran straight at me in the dark.

A couple of weeks before Teddy passed, I was walking him on a leadline and he wanted to leave our yard. He hadn’t been off the property in years, so I took him down the road and back. In hindsight, I’m so glad I did.

While I had dreaded losing a pony for most of my life, when the time actually came to say goodbye, it was surprisingly okay. Pink blossoms were falling from a tree in our yard where Teddy used to sleep with Angus, the collie. They had become brothers over the years, and would snooze their Sundays away under that tree. After Angus passed, Teddy napped there alone. I like to think they are together again.

And like the story of how God created ponies, there’s another one about how God created dogs. Speaking again to the angel, God boasted of dogs, “Oh, these turned out so great!”

Angel: “But wait. What’s the downside?”

God: “I’m going to need them all back at some point.”

And the beat goes on.

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