I think the pony who wandered into our yard saw our compost bin as a fast-food stop. He is cream-colored with curly hair, and very gentle, and he follows anyone who will feed him old lettuce leaves. We tied him up out back and I hopped in the truck with Isaac to drive around looking for his owner.
An hour later, nobody seemed to know where he belonged. The boys — led by Wife, their ringleader — were starting to talk like it had rained ponies from heaven. I closed him in a fenced yard where he would have room to trot, the same yard where we’d just finished building a giant sandbox.
Yes, he did eventually get in the sandbox, but that’s not the point of the story. He is a gentle enough pony, but I was concerned that he might kick someone, so I told all the boys to stay out of kicking range. I walked behind him to demonstrate, because little boys are visual creatures, and because I am an idiot. As I stood behind the gentle pony, lecturing my sons about how one ought never to stand directly behind a pony, I noticed something shiny on the ground. Perhaps it was a rare bottle cap, or maybe even a nickel. I bent over to pick up the shiny thing. I felt a whoosh just over the back of my head, as the pony did a little Bruce-Lee style double-kick before trotting away.
I surveyed the wide-eyed, duly impressed faces of little boys. “See what I mean?” I asked them, like I’d planned it, like I’d known the pony would try to brain me and had given him my special Sugar-Ray Robinson evasion at the last second, using my ninja reflexes. There was nodding. I couldn’t tell if they were thinking Dad is awesome, or Dad is a doofus. I am fairly certain, however, that none of them will be standing behind a pony any time soon.
I left them there to contemplate the danger of standing behind ponies, and went inside to pray a special prayer to that angel assigned to morons who stoop down behind livestock. The boys returned to sandbox playing, and ball throwing, and running alongside their new friend, who behaves more like a puppy than a pony.
Last night I tracked down the pony’s owner by phone. It turns out he wanders the fields behind our property, and he’s drawn to children’s voices. I pegged him for a Larry, but his name is actually Trigger. He’s going home today. There’s no ponies from heaven after all.
Needless to say, there is now talk afoot about my building a pen and acquiring our very own pony for the Woodlief homestead. I am trying to discourage this. I am not winning.