|6/21/2011 12:56:00 PM|
Elderly pony lives up to his name
|Yvette Chandler with Studley. The elderly pony has been many a child’s introduction to riding. photo by Kathryn Godsiff |
When a pony is halfway through his third decade, there's a pretty good chance he has a long list of fans holding onto memories of him. Ponies, known for their somewhat independent ways, don't always foster warm fuzzy memories, but in the case of one elderly Sisters gelding named Studley, there is a legion of riders who call him beloved.
Ceili Cornelius, 12, took lessons on Studley at O'Neal Farms. She was 6 or 7 at the time, a vulnerable age for beginning riders. She credits her confidence in the saddle now to those early lessons when Studley took care of her, staying steady and calm. After a year or so as she and the pony came to know each other, he began to show a bit of his sassy personality. "He was really fun to ride. Even though he's small, he always packs a punch," said Ceili.
Studley, 34, is now owned by the Chandler family of Sisters, but still resides at O'Neal Farms. He wanders freely around the property during the day, exploring at his leisure and checking out the big horses' grain pans.
Karen O'Neal had him in her lesson string for many years, and when the Chandlers wanted to buy Studley and retire him, O'Neal realized she wasn't able to do that because she didn't actually own him. So Yvette Chandler embarked on a search for the owner, and discovered that the pony has enjoyed a long and varied career.
Studley was born around 1977, and his first recorded owner was the Lake Oswego Hunt Club in Portland. He came there from a field and was ungelded, earning him his moniker. He was also very wild, scared and spooking at everything. He was duly gelded, and his next owner, Debbie Evans, purchased him around 1985 for her daughter Lisa when pony and child were both 8 years old. Several years of "incessant riding" by young Lisa and her brother cured Studley of his wild ways, and when the kids outgrew him, he was sold to neighbors with six young sons.
The boys enjoyed riding the pony around their property, shooting arrows off his back toward the elk that resided nearby. Studley made up for that by frequently hanging out with the elk.
Eventually, Lisa had a son of her own and offered to buy Studley back. The owners agreed and the family, complete with pony, eventually relocated to Redmond.
At one stage of his life, Studley escaped from a pen by crawling under the fence and was hit by a car. His resulting fear of cars means that he doesn't stray close to busy roads when he's wandering about.
Studley went next to Lisa Holly for her children to ride. Lisa's daughter competed in dressage until she outgrew the pony, at which time he went to Redmond veterinarian Darren Kelly for his little girl to love. The pair rode in parades and shows until she, too, outgrew him, at which time he landed at his present address just out of Sisters. When the Chandlers wanted to purchase him, they discovered that his present owner was one of the early owners, Debbie Evans. When she heard from Yvette, Debbie said, "He's still alive? You can have him!"
The circle of Studley's life seems complete at O'Neal Farms. According to Yvette, many, many children have learned to ride on him there. The Chandler's daughter, Ellie, 12, is another Sisters rider with sweet memories of her time on board the spunky pony.
"I learned all the basics of riding on him," she said. He "taught me a lot about how to handle sassy ponies. I never thought he would actually become my pony; neither did I think we would win Reserve Champion in Central Oregon Dressage together. Both came true and I've been loving him ever since."
The Chandler family is committed to providing for Studley for the rest of his life, and Yvette is exploring the possibility of a Guiness World Record for aged equines.
He's showing himself to be a tough customer: Besides surviving the car accident, he's weathered a bout of pigeon fever and an impaction colic. Things got bad during the colic and the family discussed euthanization. They finally just opened the stall door and he dashed out, made a full recovery and hasn't been shut in during daylight hours since. Things are looking good for that record attempt.
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011
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I would like to volunteer some of my time at Habitat Restore
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