The Healing Power of Bugsy

At some point in life, every girl asks for a pony. And Hadley has been no different.

Had’s been pestering us the past few months, and while I’m not one to bow to her demands, let’s face it: we’re got an empty stall and acreage to spare. So I asked our friend Liz, who’s a horse vet, to keep an eye out for an appropriate candidate: something old, diminutive, and bombproof. 
Off the trailer, put to work
Last weekend I got the call. I picked up “Bugsy,” a brown and white pinto who is so fuzzy, he’s more wooly mammoth than pony. His ears are lost in his bushy mane and forelock. He’s 22 years old, infinitely sweet and adores little kids.

I had planned to “meet” Bugsy before agreeing to take him, but Brynn’s doctor appointments preempted our plans, and Bugsy’s owner simply said, “Come get him. If he doesn’t work out, you can always bring him back.”

So after an afternoon of fox hunting last Sunday, in the fading winter light, I left Chance and the truck idling while we haltered the pony. Though Bugsy had been languishing in a field for several months, he marched up the trailer ramp as though he’d been briefed on his next assignment.

Hadley was so thrilled with Bugsy, she insisted on test driving him right away, despite the cold and the wind and the setting sun. We off-loaded the pony in the front yard, among squealing kids, a dog nipping at his heels, and horses and sheep careening along the fence line. He could have cared less.
Hadley’s enthusiasm was predictable. But Bugsy’s been surprising therapeutic for me.

It’s more than the thrill of having a new critter in our midst. There’s something inherently comforting about Bugsy. He’s alert and keenly aware of his surroundings, but there’s a sweet level-headedness about him — a kindness in his soft, brown eyes. In the week that he’s been here, I find myself draping my arms around his neck, and patting his round wooly back. He’s like a big teddy bear.

And I know it’s not just me. This morning I noticed that Linda had braved the cold to visit her horse, Mingo, who is boarded at our farm. I threw on a coat and trudged out to chat with her.

When I found her, she was standing outside in the paddock behind the barn, at the mercy of the arctic wind.

She was hunched over, hugging Bugsy, a faint smile on her face.

Below: a snowy Saturday morning jaunt with Bugsy….