Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a painted pony turns 8 years old

Apache Moon joined our family during his fourth year, when my daughter was 7 years old. Since then he has taught us so many wonderful lessons about riding and ponies and how little girls and ponies together can make magic.

His many nicknames offer a glimpse into his personality: Patch Pony, Little Man, The Thelwell. He is smart, talented, nimble, and sometimes a bit of a devil. He knows how to take gates off hinges and let entire herds out. He knows when fence tape is hot or not. He handles our 16.2 Hanoverian gelding with no problem. And today is his 8th birthday!

After being serenaded this morning and served a gorgeous birthday breakfast, his first act as an 8-year old was to escape the barnyard.



His next was to get a little birthday ride with his girl.



At some point she'll outgrow him, but we plan to train him to drive so we can enjoy him forever.

These are some of the things this pony and his girl have done together over the past two years, all firsts for both of them. Thank you, Apache Moon! You're a superstar and we love you!







14 comments:

Matthew said...

Happy Birthday, Patch Pony. We love you!

billie said...

Forgot to say... photo credit for all the action shots goes to Dad. :)

Victoria Cummings said...

Just what every girl needs - They're both beautiful. Happy Birthday, Apache Moon!

Me!! said...

Kewl pictures... I must admit, that looks a little scary...

the7msn said...

Wow! Spectacular things come in little packages. I love that you have plans to keep him once your daughter outgrows him. What a lucky girl she is to have him.

Grey Horse Matters said...

He is the most adorable pony ever! Happy Birthday you little devil. I love his name. Your daughter is one great rider and you can see they are a great team. Of course the pictures look very professional, thanks to Dad. Happy Birthday again to a perfectly wonderful pony.
My granddaughter who is only three has been asking for a pony and very specifically wants one with Apache Moon's coloring. She loves her mom's horse Blue and is convinced he loves her too and she of course wants one the same color. I'm not sure about this right now, the only reason I would even consider this is as a companion for Dusty right now.

Linda said...

What a wonderful pony! I am looking for a good one for my grandson who is 7. I have been looking for older ones as I thought they would be safer, but you just proved me wrong. How did you get so lucky?

billie said...

Thank you, Victoria - it often amazes me when I see the Little Man and how much he trusts my daughter. He's not perfect, but he really does teach her (and all of us) so much, every single day.

Me!! - thanks and I didn't know you had a new blog! I'll be over to check it out.

Linda of the7msn: He's 12.2h and pretty spectacular. She saved her money for years and bought him herself! They're a great team.

Arlene: We've had a lot of good times with this little man. One thing we've thought about is that he could conceivably live long enough to ride my grandchildren around! Three is young, but if she's grown up with horses (which she has) and you find the right pony, it could work!

Linda: We were introduced to a breeder when we started pony shopping, after several pony prospects in other places failed pre-purchase vet exams. The breeder has two 10 and 11h Shetland stallions and breeds to slightly bigger pony mares - all their ponies are painted b/c of the stallions. We were very lucky to be in a situation where the breeder knew our trainer well and she brought over several ponies for a month so my daughter could ride them in lessons, spend time with them, and see if she made a connection. She did, and although Apache Moon was young and green, he was raised and trained with the breeder's 3 young girls so he was very good with my daughter.

The one thing I'll say is that ponies (esp. Shetlands) can be spunky and willful, so the child rider does need to be, esp. if the pony is young, able to deal with the behaviors. We had one rough fall season with Apache, but my daughter stuck with it and they have done well together. The hard part is that when the pony is this small, most adult trainers are too big to climb on and work through a problem under saddle. My daughter has a natural seat and extreme ability to focus that has made it possible for our trainers to direct her as needed in working through issues.

Every time we take this pony anywhere (and sometimes even when we don't - farrier and vet come to mind) we get people asking if he's for sale or will be when she gets taller. And of course, the answer is no!

HeavyHorses said...

Great pics! congrats~!
Alex here from Home-ed.

billie said...

Hi, Alex! Thanks for coming by!

CharlieHorse said...

For those horse enthusiasts REALLY in the know, there is just something special, very special about ponies - most little children know this without words :) And isn't it funny, I call Lady-O "the pony with a thousand names" - which just might be the title of her book - LOL !!I just love these pixs - just look at the shared purpose and courage !! And, paints definitely put the "sparkle" in any herd :) My girls both turn 11 this April - we've painted birthdays coming up to celebrate !! Thanks for sharing.

billie said...

That IS the perfect title, Beth - use it!!

Michelle said...

I love these photos! This Little Man is absolutely beautiful, I love his face. He looks so sweet and kind, and that naughty streak is so cute! Your daughter must be commended for her riding too. I am impressed with her courage and riding ability!

billie said...

Thanks, Michelle. This seems like a long time ago to us - these days she still rides the pony (mostly bareback and last week found her galloping around the farm on him with no saddle OR bridle) but she is doing the jump work on a huge TB/Percheron she is able to ride in lessons and lease for outings. It's quite a shift for her going from pony to big horse. (she rides our QH too, and he's 15.3, but he's not built like that Percheron!)