Relationships between children and animals are fascinating. There’s a young rider at our barn named Megan, age 8. Her big sister Rachel rides too. The family owns a mustang pony named Misty who has turned into a champion pony hunter and jumper. Sometimes when two girls in the family ride, they share a pony or horse.
But Megan is not quite ready for Misty. She prefers Stormy, and, without a doubt, Megan is the person that Stormy prefers above all others.
Stormy is a pony complete with the pony traits we all know. When he first arrived at the barn, he escaped from his stall a few times. He unlocked his stall door in less time than it took me to blink. While loose, he walked around and taunted the other horses who remained behind bars. He did this three times in one hour, before the fledgling barn employee (OK, it was me!) attached a double-ended snap to the lock.
When Stormy first came to the barn, he was to be our trainer’s first school pony, a generous loan from a good friend and horsewoman named Wanda. Wanda has a gift for finding ponies. Not just any ponies, the kind of ponies that little girls dream about. Ponies with flaxen manes and tails, ponies that come in from the paddock muddy, get cleaned up for a show and then win everything in sight.
Stormy first came to the barn after a winter off. Samantha was one of the only kids in the barn then, so she was charged with schooling him a few times a week to help him get back in shape.
With her fast growing gangly legs, Samantha easily slid off Stormy a few times before she grew accustomed to his shape and size. Laughing so hard she almost split her breeches (literally), she couldn’t wait for her next escapade with Stormy. I think Stormy was less than thrilled with this arrangement, wondering where all the “little” kids were that Wanda had told him he was going to meet at his new barn.
Stormy and Megan are showing together this summer for their second season as a couple. There’s absolutely nothing cuter than the sight of Megan coming into the barn early on a horse show morning, dressed to compete. I am usually already there, braiding Stormy, because oh no, you can’t braid him the night before—he scratches his braids out with his hind hoof.
To see Megan with her sleepy eyes and freckles, her hair in braids with ribbons, her jods, garters and boots, is to have your womb ache for a female child. (Paging Dover, here’s your next cover model.) When Megan’s eyes find Stormy, her face lights up.
Once their show day is finished, you can find Megan and Stormy meandering around the show grounds looking for the best grass. Stormy looks more like Megan’s beloved dog, trailing behind her, amicably going wherever she wanders. The sight is all the more merry for the melodious non-stop chatter wafting from the pair. Megan is talking to Stormy. And Stormy is listening. We’re not really sure what they are talking about, but we can tell by the looks on their faces that, at turns, this conversation is serious, important and hilarious.
So close is this relationship between girl and pony, that Stormy misses Megan when she’s gone. Samantha sometimes rides him while Megan is away, but his usual zip and zeal is missing. The unknown factor—is it because his beloved is away?
Once when Megan was out of town, Samantha rode Stormy for several days in a row. Upon Megan’s return to the barn, Samantha told Megan she had better go talk to Stormy because he had really missed her. About 20 minutes later, Megan returned, her hands trying to hold back the laughter that pealed out of the corners of her mouth. We asked her what was so funny. She looked at Samantha and said, “I talked to Stormy. He says he HATES you!” More giggles.
Megan didn’t notice the rest of us howling with laughter. Samantha said, “Megan, you’re right!”
But Megan, we didn’t tell you, Stormy LOVES you.
Elizabeth Howell grew up riding on the hunter/jumper circuit in Massachusetts. Now she is a horse show mom. She holds a day job at The Emily Post Institute and slings horse manure on the weekends. Her website is www.sheridesIpay.com.