I really think you’re going to love this story, “Lessons From A Shetland Pony,” by my very good friend and personal assistant, Kristi (Michalski) Morgan. Take a break, sit back, relax and enjoy.
Growing up on a farm and ranch in South Dakota it was a rite of passage – as soon as you were able to pull on your itty-bitty cowboy boots by yourself, someone was flinging you up on the back of your first Shetland pony. There is usually video of this momentous occasion, but due to the shock/fear/excitement of it all, the video proof is usually unnecessary as it is burned rather deeply into one’s memory – even if you are only 3 1/2 at the time.
Lessons Learned from My Shetland Pony Banjo
For any of you that have ever had a Shetland pony you probably understand. For those of you that have missed out on this pleasure, let me fill you in. Shetland ponies, while known for being extremely smart, have got to be the meanest, orneriest little buggers on the whole darn planet.
My first pony, Banjo, was about as round as he was tall. He was chestnut colored with a long, flowing, light colored mane that usually hung right in his eyes. I am pretty confident the thinking of my parents was, if she falls off, it’s not too far to the ground. She can’t get hurt that bad. But let me tell you, when you are a toddler, even the height of a Shetland pony seems high. Oh, and did I mention, there was no saddle. I was expected to ride this monster bareback. “Bust out the video camera, Pa, this should be good!”my older brother, Mike, hollered as he raced outside to watch the antics.
So they fling me up on Banjo’s back, hand me the reins and tell me to give him a kick. Tentatively I give him a little nudge in the sides…nothing. I kick a little harder and Banjo looks back at me like, What the hell do you think you are doing? My brother, in an attempt to be funny, or quite possibly trying to fulfill his longtime wish of being an only child, gives my pony a good hard wallop on the rump and off Banjo bolts – me bumping up and down, praying I don’t fall off on the gravel road.
Well I told you Shetland ponies are known for being intelligent, so about this point in our “ride” Banjo decided he had had quite enough of it. He took off like greased lightning back to the house where my parents were still standing watching. I was holding on for dear life, screaming repeatedly, “I’m having a runaway!!” Banjo ran straight in to the house. And by that I mean straight in to the side of the house with his HEAD – at full speed. The impact was so jarring I flew off my Shetland pony and crashed to the ground. Banjo looked at me slyly out of the corner of his eye as he ripped off a mouthful of the grass I lay crumpled in. Maybe it was my child’s mind playing tricks on me (or maybe it was a concussion) but I swore I heard him laugh between bites. Darn pony!
That was the first of many mean Shetland ponies, but I was never deterred. They were always a little bit bigger than Banjo; they seemed to get taller as I got taller. The next pony had his own unique way of getting me off his back. He would run at a full gallop and then screech to a halt, put his neck down, and I’d go sliding right down it. He’d trot off back to the barn, leaving me stranded far from home. The pony after that bucked my Grandpa off and broke his leg. You see, Grandpa had decided he’d teach us kids how to ride those blasted ponies since we couldn’t seem to figure it out. Gramps had to hear that story retold ‘til his dying day and was none to happy about it.
I often wondered why our parents put us on such mean ponies time and again. We’d finally be able to ride one and then we would graduate to the next bigger pony, and the next, and then finally a “real” horse. The next thing you know, we’d be barrel racing. Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to put us on a well-trained horse to begin with − not to mention safer?
Looking back, I realize learning to ride on Shetland ponies is a lot like the way God prepares us for the big things in life. Learning the hard way builds our skill and confidence level. Overcoming difficulties proves our resilience. Getting up when we fall and getting back on, even if it hurts sometimes, helps us overcome our fears. This is how we become great. So when things in life get a little bumpy – hang on and enjoy the ride! God’s preparing you for bigger things. 🙂
From Kristi to you as life’s journey continues…