Mr Z

Mr Z

My calendar looks like a multi-colored pen exploded on it. Working two jobs and having a horse business on the side is crazy! I love every moment of it and still am not sure how I do it all and still have time for my pony boys.

But today was a day where I needed to stop and breathe, and take in the horse smells. I spent the weekend working as a groom, clipper and braider and showing hours away from home with other friends’ horses and one of my own. But I noticed how hot and muggy home was and felt so bad for Mr. Z! Seems ‘the cobbler’s kid is the last to get shoes’ is a true saying!

Mr. Z (aka Z, Arizona, Stinky, Old Man, Merrie Mills Arizona) is my 30+ year old Welsh Pony. He’s seen more in his life than I have and is a hardy, wild old pony soul. When you’re but 12.1 hands and well up there in the age category, you start to get old. Though Z has waited til this past winter to actually think he might be getting old – just 2 years ago he was still showing in driving and rudely gate-rushing (still does that) and stomped off my toenail through boots! I made him stop showing in a cart because unbeknownst to him, his hocks are starting to stiffen up to where the cart wasn’t fair. He hasn’t held a leadliner or other rider in maybe 5 years because he has the best reputation in central Virginia of 30 years of ceremoniously dumping kids in creative fashions. He never met a trainer that he couldn’t unseat 🙂

But to his demise he ended up at my house, as a companion pony where (little did he know) a lack of riding ability didn’t mean easy street. Z has been costumed in some of the most creative outfits, dragged to every county fair, 4-H show, state fair and expo around as an in-hand demo pony for showmanship and halter.

All because he hasn’t lost his spark.

Today I spend time with my best boy, the one who fulfilled all those dreams of owning a pony without even riding him. While I body clipped his cushings coat off in the 80+ degree heat he stood under his industrial fan inside his stall and we laughed about all the funny stunts he’s pulled. That first bath where I was determined to make him stand and he determinedly dragged me on my stomach across the pasture because I refused to let go. The first horse show where in showmanship he pretended to be a Lipizzaner and do airs above ground while in the ring. The countless halters he has managed to remove and hide somewhere I can’t find. When I tried to learn about driving and put a fat pony in a mini cart and couldn’t figure out what wasn’t right. Teaching my best showmanship student humility by getting her to the championship round in showmanship on the last run and casually kicking the cone over with his front foot…

And the good times. The year he spent helping a kid deal with her father’s death as a patient soul of a baby sitter, the now countless parades and shows he’s attended, being the 30+ year old pony in an open all breed conformation class and setting up like it’s pony championships and beating 20+ horses for a kid. The crazy fan club of 4-H kids he’s seen through the program – they still fight to walk him for me when we go places.

Today we had a loving chat about being old. I told Z that it’s ok to get old, nobody will think the lesser of him. That we won’t tell anybody that he can’t shed anymore, or that he’s starting to go blind and spooks at silly things like ribbons. We won’t let anybody see the old guy getting stiff in the winter so he gets his stall and blanket when his obese body should be working a few extra calories off. I promised him that because of his sabino paint coloring, nobody except me can tell how white he’s gotten these past 5 years. I promised him we’d keep that secret forever as I clipped him up and pulled his mane so he looked show ready.

When we finished clipping, Z, in his response was to blow right through his unlocked stall door out into the drylot, cantering and bucking and looking to roll…and promising he’d live to see 40 just for sheer principle.

Long Live Ponies.


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