Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance, Livestock, Philosophy, Pony

Getting to Know Jack

Half-Pint Homestead is the ultimate puzzle.  There are so many pieces that can be fit together multiple ways and on multiple levels.  For example, the rabbits eat the high protein mulberry prunings from the hedge and turn it into more rabbits for meat and income.  They provide high quality manure for the garden beds so we can grow vegetables that we eat, giving the trimmings back to the rabbits.  The rabbit manure also attracts red wiggler worms which the hens gobble up, turning them into eggs and more chickens.  On and on it goes, layer upon layer, a beautiful, ever-changing, growing system.

Then there’s Jack Sparrow, the Shetland pony.  I could tell you that I got him because he cleans up all the hay the goats won’t eat (which he does), or that he’s a guardian in case a dog gets in with the goats (he would if they could get past the 6 foot privacy fence with strong wire panels along the bottom), or that he provides us “horsepower” when we need it (he will when I get him harness trained), or that his manure is great for the compost pile (it is).  But none of those things really matter at all.  Jack is here because I have loved horses all my life and something is missing when I don’t have one – even one so small as Jack.

I began my search for a pony last fall.  Prices always drop in the fall when people realize they have to buy hay for a horse they didn’t ride last summer because they were “just too busy”.  My Facebook ad looking for a pony was quickly answered by several people.  The man who had Jack said he’d gotten him for his grandchildren and they didn’t do anything with him (I now know the reason for this).  He said he was fairly well broke to ride, but hadn’t been ridden all summer.  He was asking the rock bottom price of $125.  I said I’d take him.

Now I would never recommend buying a horse like this to any of my riding lesson clients.  For that price, I was quite sure Jack had issues I wasn’t being told about.  However; I’ve been riding horses since I was two and training them since I was 13, so I can fix, or learn to work around most problems.  It was still a risk, but a small one.  We hooked up the horse trailer and made a 3 hour drive to pick up a very dirty and furry pony.  With his long ragged black mane and propensity to run away from me, Jack Sparrow seemed the perfect name.

Jack has been with us for a little over three months.  He is a very stout little guy and will make a great cart pony.  We actually picked up a cart along with Jack for another $50.  He is not friendly and would be almost impossible to catch in the large pasture they were keeping him in, which I suspect is the reason the grandchildren hadn’t done anything with him.  He was also too fat, almost to the point of foundering, so he shouldn’t be on pasture anyway.  Despite the fact that he would prefer you just leave him alone, he is obedient and well mannered once he is caught.  There is no meanness or aggression in his attitude and he gets along fine with the goats and chickens.  All in all, I’m very happy with our Jack Sparrow and am looking forward to starting his training when the weather warms up.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”

Winston Churchill

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