Consequently I found myself with another dilemma. Neds (posh name Nocona Naidu) will be coming home alone. Being a herd / prey animal that thrives with equine company this isn't really acceptable and I really don't want to buy another horse so I contacted the local animal sanctuary. I think they saw me coming.
I had in mind a small companion pony for Neds, bearing in mind that Teo's loan could end for any number of reasons and I need to keep space for her in case she comes home too. I currently have two and a half stables, the half being the one my Dearly Beloved began building a couple of years ago and neglected to finish. But it will soon be finished and then I'll have two large stables and a medium sized one. Along with the grazing plenty of room to fit a small one in.
Yvonne, the lady from the sanctuary had clearly been trained in secret psychology techniques. Over the phone she took my details and invited me for an interview and a look round. I wasn't sure if they would allow me to adopt a pony with my own physical difficulties but they were happy with my explanations of how I manage, albeit in a slow motion roundabout way. I duly went and we discussed my situation in detail and chatted and I was entirely unaware that Yvonne had me so accurately sussed! Of the many horses and ponies at the sanctuary she cunningly took me straight to Pongo.
Aargh! My weakness for spots had been rumbled. Lovely old Pongo enjoyed a scratch and a bit of mutual grooming and promptly stole my heart. Damn him. I was determined to remain objective.
I didn't need to see any others but I had mentioned to Yvonne a recent visit I'd had to a mini-shetland stud (as in miniature shetland ponies rather than small premises) and how taken I'd been with the titchy little things. She owns two herself, along with a much bigger horse and regaled me with tales of how great they are as we made our way back to the office. Catching me unawares she suddenly diverted me into a paddock and introduced me to a miniscule afro wearing creature that is probably smaller than my German Shepherd Rolf. There really can't be much in it height wise.
This is Prince. Not a great photo, he has the most beautiful head under that hairdo and after another half hour of mutual grooming I was lost and facing a dreadful dilemma. Prince or Pongo? Prince is a baby at 15 months old and had a grim start in life. He arrived at the sanctuary at about 8 months old and it's taken them several months to get him up to normal weight. Pongo is a gentle old gent, late teens or possibly older and has been in a number of homes through no fault of his own. The way it goes with horses.
Naughty Yvonne explained how they could share a stable. How lovely it would be for them to go to a private home. How, in the event of unforseen circumstances they will always be welcomed back to the sanctuary (who retain legal ownership of all of their equines). How much easier it is to have three rather than two, ensuring none are left alone when one is taken from the field. How little they eat. She got me. Good and proper.
The home check was carried out yesterday and, subject to them getting on ok, both ponies are due to arrive in a fortnight. I'm such a pushover. I just have everything crossed that Neds likes them. She's met small ponies before and after the initial face pulling is usually a gregarious girl.
So two more weeks. Lots of learning about the management of small ponies, prevention of laminitis etc. Adjusting fences. Lowering doors. Thank goodness Yvonne didn't single out any more of the 44 that they have. Apparently they rarely get offered homes for companion ponies, but the equine charities do have lots of ride-able horses looking for homes as well. I'd recommend anyone looking for a horse or pony to at least look there. What's the worst that can happen? OK so you might end up with two...