1 Ben Chunch was born on an Amish farm in Western New York. Here's a shot of him on the day we picked him up.
2 Saying hello for the first time to my longtime stable manager Betsy Perreten. She's giving Ben Chunch some physical affection, and he's giving it right back.
3 Here he is munching on his first meal in his new home, our stable.
4 He seems to be adjusting well to his new surroundings.
5 Ben Chunch pokes his head out of the stall to watch the world go by.
6 In the paddock, he's hanging out with his new buddy Sasa, our 18-year-old Fresian. Ben Chunch is only four-and-a-half years old, but at 13.3 hands tall he has probably reached his full height. He will likely fill out in the years ahead.
7 Here are my stables, home to Ben Chunch, five Friesians and three Sicilian donkeys.
8 Ben Chunch takes a walk with Betsy so the veterinarian can get a good look at his gait. She observes that he's not quite symmetrical - one side of his pelvis is a bit higher than the other. That's not unusual - in fact he's completely normal for his age.
9 Here's Dr. Rosemary Ganser meeting Ben Chunch for the first time. She notices right away that he has no attention span, just like any youngster.
10 Here she is getting a feel for his bone structure.
11 She strokes his neck and flanks, looking for sensitivities. She can tell right away that he's a right-dominant horse. Like human beings, most horses are dominant on one side or the other.
12 She carefully feels each tendon and vertebrae, checking for alignment and any sensitive spots.
13 When she touches a spot on his right side, Ben Chunch flinches. That tells her he has some sensitivity there.
14 When she's checking his joints, she is looking for any areas that aren't moving fluidly.
15 Ben Chunch is not used to having his feet picked up, so Dr. Ganser goes easy on him. She is feeling his joints for motion.
16 Now she is pushing on the side of the pelvis that needs adjusting, trying to loosen him up.
17 She even feels the vertebrae in the tail.
18 Ben Chunch is a Fell pony, an endangered species. Fell ponies are on the Watch List of the Livestock Conservancy, meaning there are fewer than 2,500 annual registrations in the US and an estimated global population of less than 10,000.
19 Fell ponies were originally bred on the fell farms of northwest England and were used for riding and driving. Their numbers decreased dramatically until 1945, when a breeding program began and the numbers started to rise again.
20 When Dr. Ganser is finished with her adjustments, she and Betsy take Ben Chunch out again for observation.
21 Dr. Ganser is satisfied. He's not perfect, but definitely better. In the months ahead, Betsy will work with him to improve his stance and teach him to carry himself straight. He also needs some basic training. As Betsy put it, "He's very very green."
22 Even though he’s not an athlete, good balance and symmetry will help Ben Chunch in his training, and keep him healthy for years to come.
23 Betsy leads Ben Chunch back to the stables. He is a very welcome addition to our Bedford family!