Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walking the Pony

        Yes, that is a pony. I saw these little Amish girls walking this little pony-foal like a puppy dog.

        Both mornings, of the Horse Progress Days, I noticed there were a lot of Amish children driving pony carts toward the event. I wasn't too surprised because it is a rather common thing in Amish communities ... but it did seem like more pony carts than I would expect to see.

 When the event began I soon realized why all the pony carts. Both mornings started with local Amish children driving their ponies out into a field while us adults stood in a circle and watched. In the photo below, you can see them lining up with their little carts waiting for their turn. Some of the drivers were really young, (under five) but they usually had an older sibling along to help, (the older sibling may have been seven.)
         When the arena (us adults were the fence) had about 30 pony carts, the children drivers lined up in a big semi-circle. The announcer warned over his microphone, "Children, make sure you have a good hold on your ponies, we are going to have a little surprise!"
         An Amish boy came riding in on a mama pony with a pony-foal at her heals. The foal had a miniature rider on board, a doll dressed like a little Amish boy.  (It may have been the pony-foal in the top photo.) That little foal ran in circles around its mama with its miniature rider and all of us laughed until our bellies ached. An adult Amishman ran in circles after the pony-foal to try and catch it and we laughed even harder!
 The amazing part was that all of the young drivers kept their tiny steeds under control. They seemed to be expert handlers and no doubt they have a lot of experience.
        During this two-day event, hundreds of Amish families passed by my "book selling table" most of the children noticed my large toy horse. Many of those children wanted to look at it closer and some wanted to pet its mane and tail. One very pleasant family came by, and the daddy held a little boy about 16 months old. He pointed and said something in Dutch, Mama interpreted for me, "He said,'There's another horse!'" They were such friendly people I took the liberty to say, "I'm surprised at how much Amish children love horses. I thought everyday use would cause them to loose interest." The daddy told me, "Every time we hitch up a horse to go somewhere, he (the toddler) has to pet the horse before we go!"
        At first I worried that my toy horse may cause troubles for parents, if children began to throw a fit because they wanted the toy. Guess what ... that never happened. The Amish children stood right next to my table looking at the toy horse and the books. They all had their hands down at their sides unless they asked for permission to touch the horse. Many tiny little Amish girls stood looking at the toy with big eyes, until I asked, "Do you want to pet the horse?" They wouldn't speak, but nodded their heads politely. I set the horse closer so they could reach it.

        Many young Amish boys stopped by and looked at the covers of my books for a long time. I asked them if they wanted a bookmark but they usually didn't take one, until someone taught me how to ask in Pennsylvania Dutch, then almost every one smiled, took a bookmark and said, "Thank you" in English.

        It seemed fitting, that as I was leaving the event I saw these little girls walking their pony.

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