Written by – Kylie Savidge, Owner, Southampton Station.
After four years as a contributor to the Central Station blog, I feel like I am an old campaigner and have told all the stories that one can tell about their lives living on the land in rural Queensland.
But it seems that I have a few stories left to tell and a few issues that I would like to address.
Two of these stories are about a boy and his dog and a girl and her pony, both stories that are a part of life on the land and growing up, showing compassion, doing your best, and understanding that sometimes things happen in a split second that will alter the way you think, feel, and look at life. Another is about the Pimelea plant that plagues us in our part of QLD and poisons our cattle, giving them a slow and horrific death with only limited treatment options available that may help some and not others, often ending in the humane putting down of the animal involved.
So, today, let us start with the story of a girl and her pony.
Meg and Wilbur.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved horses and was gifted a pony all of her very own. They had two years of learning, love, and laughter together until sadly the little girl grew too big for her beloved pony and he was offered a fabulous new home with more small children to teach lessons to. The little girl’s name is Meghan and the pony’s name is Comet.
Meg with Comet when he first arrived.
Comet, a grey welsh mountain x pony gelding, joined our equine family in February 2015 having been bought for Meg to go on to after her retired stock horse, Wilbur, had become just too old for a little girl to go adventuring on. What fun this new partnership had, Comet being just the right size for Meg at 12hh, a pony that she could catch, saddle, and bridle all by herself with no help required from an adult apart from a girth check and a quick glance to make sure all was right and safe. Adventures were had in abundance, picnics by the creek, ogre hunting in the swamp (no ogres were harmed in these escapades), mustering of sneaky cows, retrieval of runaway weaners, mad gallops after Mum whilst she was chasing bulls out of the holding paddocks for trucking (with Mum all the while yelling,” Slow Down!!!” only to be told “we are only going as fast as you are!”), tearing about the weaner yard over jumps that she had coerced her brothers into making for her and the quiet times where she would lie on his back and read stories to him.
Many lessons were learned by a stubborn little girl on an equally stubborn little pony about riding, caring for your pony, cattle work, the importance of tying your pony up nice and tight on a short rope (ponies are clever and can undo their lead ropes if not secured well and wander off). Comet was just naughty enough to teach her to ride, to make her sit up and use her body to communicate with him, but not be malicious nor nasty in any way. Just your typical smart bush pony. Plenty of fun was had by both and life was just grand until Meg had a growth spurt towards the end of 2016 and I realised it was time to be thinking about what horse she was going to graduate onto as Comet was getting a little small for her 160 cm height. This conversation did not go down well as she loves her Comet and was keeping him forever and ever I was told. As he is in his prime at between 12-15 yrs of age (according to horse dentist), letting him sit in the paddock and do nothing for the next 10 yrs was not an option as he is a good pony and had plenty of life in him for another rider or two. After much discussion Meg was reluctantly accepting of this decision and we had reassured her that Comet would not be going to just anyone. We would choose someone who would love and care for him just as we chose Comet for her.
Meg bringing up the tail on Comet.
Over the Easter holidays Meg started riding my horse, Whisky, an eight yr old bay gelding, roughly 15hh, who is a kind horse, if not slightly neurotic about certain things. It was steady as they go for a few weeks but now they are quite a team, working together smoothly, making the idea of Comet going to a new home a little less raw. I have been demoted back to a young horse who needs plenty of miles and wet saddle blankets yet before he becomes part of the A team (The term wet saddle blankets is used in reference to a horse that has done a full day’s work resulting in the saddle cloth or pad being damp from sweat. The saying indicates the horse/pony has had plenty of time and work in their past. A lot of time and patience goes into making a good horse or pony).
Meg and Whisky.
Long-time friends of mine had expressed an interest in Comet when it was time for him to find a new home. This was happy news for Meg and me as we wanted a home for him that would treasure him as much as we had. It is really hard to find good, quiet ponies that are trustworthy and those that are around are highly valued and closely guarded.
(Far too many people have bad experiences with ponies that are not safe and quiet because of the lack of hours and wet saddle blankets that are put into the pony or horse’s training and because of a lack of common sense when it comes to handling horses. It must also be said that some people are not as trustworthy as we would like to think and therefore do not advertise in a truly honest manner.)
A visit was duly scheduled. Toni and her three boys arrived after a long drive of uncertainty due to a slight misunderstanding of directions. Comet must have known something fishy was going on as he and all the other horses had disappeared from the face of the earth it seemed. Three hours of searching finally resulted in 11 naughty equines being brought home to the yards and Comet caught and saddled up for the boys to have a ride on. The boys enjoyed everything immensely from riding Comet and the other two horses that were caught, to climbing trees and swinging about like monkeys much to Meg’s horse’s disbelief and horror. As far as he is concerned, humans should never, ever, swing about in trees!
Toni decided that Comet was indeed the pony for her and Comet was delivered to his new home a few weekends ago. I know that this was a hard choice for Meg to make and I know that she misses him but she also is happy knowing that he is well cared for and will be happy in his new home. It was hard for me to watch her dealing with her emotions as our bush kids get attached to their animals and love them; these animals are their mates, friends, and confidantes as they grow up. I am so very proud of her and how she has taken this all in her stride.
Handover and strict instructions.
Toni has promised us both updates on Comet and this will help Meg a great deal.
Comet spent just over two years with us and 80% of the time I thought he was actually a dirty orange colour but it turns out, after a good scrubbing from Toni and the boys, he is a startling grey (white) pony after all!
Comet and his new owner.
P.S. Meg is now 166 cm!! I am only 172cm so I guess with both boys towering over me that shortly I will be the short one in the family! Pun intended.
Edited to add that we took Meg to visit Comet in his new home and she was thrilled to see him and very happy now that she knows he is being looked after and loved. Many thanks must go to Toni and her family for being so understanding of Meg and her love for Comet.
A happy reunion.