Cobble Hill is a picturesque village on Vancouver Island surrounded by vineyards and wineries. It’s a long way from the rocky shores of Fogo Island, but it’s where 34-year-old Newfoundland Pony, Barr’d Island Trigger, (Registration #462) has been living for the past 25 years. His owner, Charlotte Manning, bought him from a local farm that displayed heritage breeds for the public, including sheep, cows, donkeys and a Newfoundland Pony. When the farm went under, Charlotte heard about Trigger, and he has been a beloved part of her family ever since.
born on Fogo Island in Spring 1986. When he was moved to B.C., it made national
media coverage. “They weren’t letting any non-gelded horses off the island and
for good reasons given how low the numbers were; same thing with the mares. It
was a big deal that he was taken off Fogo Island and moved to B.C.,” Charlotte
For the long journey west, when Trigger landed in Ontario, the groom for the legendary Big Ben, Canada’s most famous show jumping horse, met Trigger there and flew with him the rest of the way to B.C.
“He’s the bravest horse I have ever ridden. I would ride him down the road and he would jump over ditches; he had no hesitation whatsoever,” she said. Trigger won many dressage championships, was a pony club mount and was trail ridden.
These days he’s blind in one eye and his teeth are all gone, so he’s on a steady diet of soft food with water added to his grain. But he’s safe and happy with the Mannings, where he will live out the rest of his years with the best of care.
“I love the Newfoundland Pony. It’s an extremely hardy, athletic, well rounded breed that is a Canadian gem,” said Charlotte. “There’s not a lot of breeds unique to Canada, but this is one of them and what a beauty it is. There’s so much history behind this Pony and the role it played in Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture and history.”
Guinness and Smithwicks are like any other young brothers. The 9-year-olds spend most of their days playing, running around and chasing each other. The stunning registered Newfoundland Pony stallions live in Westport, Ontario at J&D Farms with proud owners Dave and Joan Moloughney. From time to time, duty calls when a mare is brought to the farm to be bred! Guinness (#772) and Smithwicks (#773) are sought-after studs for breeding, owing to their valuable bloodline in the Newfoundland Pony breed – and their large size. Guinness is 14 hands high and Smithwicks is over 14 hands. Their father is the majestic Captain Sweetapple (#591) and their mother, the beautiful Pallas Athene (#763).
In the Newfoundland Pony world, the brothers are a best kept secret, as their physical characteristics and temperament deliver the best of what this pony is known for. Dave says, “I swear they remember everything. When Joan suffered a stroke a few years ago, they would watch out for her and follow her around. It’s as if they knew something had happened.”
Some people are quick to geld stallions in order to control aggressive behavior. Thankfully Dave and Joan are committed to working with the stallions to ensure their bloodline is passed onto a new generation of Newfoundland Ponies. Dave has been around horses all his life and cautions against isolating these herd animals: “the more you isolate them, the meaner they get.”
He ís a big fan of Newfoundland Ponies and finds the breed sure-footed, east to train and wonderful with children. His grandchildren, aged two to seven, spend time in the ring with Guinness and Smithwicks. The ponies are gentle with them, as if they know somehow that they are children.
There’s a little bit of heaven in the town of Lawn, which is located at the tip of the Burin Peninsula. Max Brockerville has seven ponies there; four of them are Newfoundland Ponies. His love for the breed and his connection to them runs deep; “I live and die for them.” His mare, Max’s May, Registration #460, who is 23 years old, he has had since she was a baby. She recently gave birth to Maggie May. He and his wife Darlane also have Newfoundland Ponies Duff and Pumpkin.
Max remembers when there were 145 Newfoundland Ponies on the Burin Peninsula back in 1985. “When the quads came on the market, the ‘Big Red’ especially, it spelled the end for the Pony. It was devasting,” he said. He does everything he can now to promote and showcase his ponies so the public can see just how trainable they are. He drove 700 posts into the ground himself and put up the wire fencing for the paddock. “It’s important for people to interact with them, for children to ride them. I explain how these ponies hauled wood for us and pulled kelp from the beach for our gardens. Newfoundlanders could not have survived without them. We owe them a great debt,” he added.
The Newfoundland Pony is known for its intelligence. “They’re easy to train; the same as a really good dog actually,” said Max. Working with his pony in the woods, he could load her up with wood and send her out to the road. “She knew the route. And my brother was waiting for her; he would unload her and send her right back to me,” he said.
If you are interested in getting a Newfoundland Pony or learning more about the breed, please contact the Newfoundland Pony Society.