We had a precious little Welsh pony for our daughter. She was a white Welsh Pony with a coarse long mane and tail and we called her “Ladybug.” Our oldest daughter rode her for several years as a first horse on our farm in Ellensburg. Then when we moved she came to Friday Harbor in a horse trailer in the middle of the winter of 1977.
Horses by nature do not like to go in a trailer and be pulled by a car down the freeway. Ladybug was old enough so that her years of experience had taught her to be unafraid of the horse trailer; she would walk right into the big metal box. Her stable mates would often take a month or so of training to gain the confidence to go into the trailer. This process involved a lot of encouragement, some hunger, and plenty of grain, hay, or carrots.
At our farm on San Juan Island, our little girl soon outgrew her pony. She was on her way to six feet of height and becoming familiar with the basketball court. It was time for Ladybug to be passed on to other young children who wanted a little pony. We put an ad in the Journal for the San Juans and hoped to get a call.
The phone call came from a woman who lived on Stuart Island! She said that there was a little black pony on Stuart and a little white pony friend would be perfect for the children who lived there. She sounded very well informed about horses and she came out that week to look at Ladybug to check her out. She liked what she saw and agreed to buy her for a modest price. Here was the problem: there were no ferries that went to Stuart Island, only boats and planes. Her idea was for me to drive our horse trailer downtown to Friday Harbor, unload Ladybug, and turn over the lead to her. She would walk Ladybug in her halter onto a BARGE, stay on the other end of the line all the way out past the end of San Juan Island and on the Stuart. When the barge reached the shore of Stuart, the pony would then step off. I was so nervous about this adventure that I tried to talk her out of it. I told her I did not want to be there to see the pony walk onto the barge. I was certain that the water would freak her out and she would be running home to our pastures along the main road from Friday Harbor, her lead flying out behind her. I had been on many trail rides where my mount decided not to set foot in the two inch creek of moving water in order to reach the other side. The Buyer assured me that everything would be just fine, not to worry. She could handle it, etc.
I slunk home in my car, feeling guilty and imagining all sorts of crazy barge-horse problems. As I unhitched the trailer I saw the other horses staring at it with curiosity. What had become of Ladybug? Had she entirely disappeared? Back at home I tried to get calm as I remembered Marguerite Henry’s book about the ponies of Chincoteague which swam from the island to the mainland. I thought of the island deer that would swim from one island to another. I anxiously awaited a call from the new owner to tell me that Ladybug had safely reached the yonder shore. And, of course, she did. If I had been on the barge, she probably would not have for she would have sensed my fears and acted out upon them. For the new owner, who expected no such accidents, she behaved perfectly as expected. Ladybug and the little black pony lived out their lives giving pleasure to the children of Stuart Island.