Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Shetland foal, H.M.S. Salt

My baby, Summer of 1971. I named the foal H.M.S. Salt because he loved salt, licking our hand clean. He was perfection, and so new, his beauty made me weep. I should've named him Holiday, as he was probably born on Memorial Day weekend. Gusty brought him home, after disappearing for over a month. I thought I had lost her for good. Her sister, Little One was inconsolate with grief. Then she was an auntie pony. I had no idea that the hussy had found a little stud pony down the road the year before... they were always escaping. Corrals? We don't need no stinkin' corrals. I spent many a night chasing them up and down Arroyo Road.

When I bought these ponies from Bear Valley Stables for $25 each, as a surprise Christmas gift for my brother Guy (who didn't want them), I stuck them in the back seat of my Volvo van, they were tiny and fearless. When I sold them in 1972, as I was going to Europe, they wound up back in Bear Valley, my vet, Doc Fisher bought them. They lived out their days in lush saltgrass pastures. The colt, and another pony went north to Petaluma. I never saw them again.

I was always at a loss as to what color to call my dark-faced ponies, they were not palominos, no cream or dilution gene—or the usual light-skinned/eyed colors; not chestnuts, no red in their coats, but they were closer to pale liver chestnuts with silver dapple gene (flaxen manes & tails, a completely different gene than palomino); they were not duns (no black points, mane, tail); and they were far too dark skinned/eyed for dusty, or chocolate palominos; note the dorsal stripe on the baby, who will turn dark like his mother. They were winter, or seasonal palominos, but their gray brown summer coats had pale dapples, their hooves striped, so silver dapple gene it is. A common Shetland color, as it turns out.

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