Pit Pony

Pit Pony, Durham Mining Museum

Born To It
Quite simply, it is in my DNA. My ancestors were horses purposefully bred down in size to toil in underground coal mining pits to haul the coal to the surface with their partner miners. Thus I was born a Service Horse. I’m not a pony. Ponies were considered too self serving with a propensity towards being wild to be proper “pit ponies”. We miniature horses are more placable. They say the last pit pony was retired in 1999 and I hope that’s true.

This beginning, of us being bred from nice horses, plays a big role in why we make excellent service partners. We have an excellent work ethic and genuinely enjoy being around people.

Iota McHippus as Foal

Me at 2 weeks

I knew this was to be my Life’s Purpose when The Lady (Marti McGinnis) came to the farm where I was born. She was there to choose from two of my cousins she had seen advertised for sale. At three months they were ready to go. I was just two weeks old but I realized immediately that I needed to connect with her. So being not much larger than a cocker spaniel at the time I marched over to where she was and looked her in the eye. I had guessed, correctly, that she spoke some equus (the language of equines) so I knew she would note the significance of what I was doing.

  1. Only the most bold of foals will leave his mama and approach a stranger, which clearly demonstrated my courage and sociable nature, and
  2. I knew who she was looking for and why and had already figured out why I was born — so I looked her directly in the eye (unusual for any horse – even grown up ones) and told her so.

I did that by holding her eyes with mine until I could see she got the message.

Iota McHippus Foal

Me being loaded into a MINI van

Note: Humans who allow themselves to be attuned to such queues are handy to join up with as there’s less training for the horse if you catch my drift.

She pet me and admired my mother, met my dad and handed over the down payment to our Farm Lady. She kept in touch by email and three months later came to bring me home.

I hardly had a chance to say goodbye to my yard mates let alone my mama before the Farm Man picked me up and plopped me into the back of the waiting mini van.

Miniature horse meets big brother paint

Meeting MuMu for the first time – he loved me instantly

I did not like this part. I cried and bucked and scrambled around with great gusto. How would you like it? The Lady and her friend wished they had worn their riding helmets – my hooves were everywhere for the first forty miles. By the time we got home I was pretty calm and jumped out into my new life. I met my Big Brother and settled right in.

My training commenced almost immediately but I didn’t find it too strenuous. In the beginning it was mostly all about developing what they call “good ground manners”. This is:

  • standing to be groomed (brushed, combed and bathed)
  • not nipping (this was a toughie for me – I love my teeth!)
  • walking alongside people without going into random highjinks
  • letting some dude use knives to trim my hooves
  • not protecting my oats and hay from people (other horses it’s ok to keep them away from what’s rightfully MINE)
  • staying calm in weird situations

I got pretty good at all of this within weeks.

Why I Care

mini horse meets kids

Kids are cute

So why do I care to connect with people? I think of myself as an ambassador not just for my kind, but all those who struggle with some of the tougher situations life throws at we who live it. As a small version of that which humans have long recognized as the “Mythical Horse“, from the earliest Kazakh equestrians through Xenophon and all the dressage masters as well the horsemen of the American west and the horse whisperers and practitioners you hear about these days. We’re natural healers, we impart balance because we are balanced.

Additionally, I’m very portable, while at the same time I’m a full version of everything equine. I have the same grace, the same beauty, the same gentle nature. My energy is palpably healthy to be around.

mini horse kisses pirate

I’m fond of meeting pirates

I like to travel and meet others. I love earning treats and having entertaining experiences. I always wanted to be employable and so have learned my craft with diligence and creativity. I’m open to learning more, seeing more, being more.

Why Does The Lady Do It?
She’s got something of a track record for this kind of thing. From her Master’s Degree in public service (Recreation)  to two years with the Peace Corps (Fiji, Heath Education) to a career as a visual artist whose overarching theme has been to help people smile and her training in natural horsemanship and equine assisted learning working with me is a natural bridge for her passions.

Update

Early Fall 2014

I am relocating to Mexico where I intend to continue my work of spreading smiles. One of the projects we have slated is to have little kids read to me. Another is for me and The Lady to visit kids and get their ideas on animal kindness and then write and draw a story using their thoughts to become a book we’ll eventually share out to them. Much more on that as things progress.