(It has taken over a month to write this.)
Ernie is known to most people as Templedruid Rameses. A palomino Section A Welsh Mountain Pony, Ernie and his brother, Bert (Templedruid Cyclone) taught me to drive a pair.
Bert and Ernie were bred in England at Templedruid Stud. The breeder shared with me the story of Bert and Ernie first meeting. A yearling when Bert was weaned from their dam, Ernie found Bert amongst the entire herd of 20+ ponies. They were inseparable from that point on.
Bert and Ernie started driving as a pair and were discovered by Mia Allo. Mia was one of the top pony four-in-hand drivers in the world and just a generally awesome person. Originally purchased for a client, they ultimately ended up with Mia and her family. There they did many driving events and were Belgian National Pony Pair Champions in 2002 or 2003.
Bert and Ernie were then imported to America. I heard about them just by chance, through a friend, when their original American owner decided to sell them. My dad was competing a pony pair at the time, I emailed him the photos.
“Don’t you need some super cute, totally experienced ponies?”
Dads are so easy sometimes.
Bert and Ernie went to Texas. I was still at school in Savannah, GA and competing a single pony. In 2008, the single pony was sold.
I called my dad. “I want your super cute ponies.”
See above about dads being easy.
My dad had only done one show with them and they were just sitting in the pasture, so on to South Carolina they went, to my mom’s farm.
I decided calling Cyclone and Rameses would be potentially jinxing myself. So they became Bert and Ernie. We did tons of shows from Prelim to Advanced. Bert was always a challenge for dressage. Ernie was the brains of the operation.
They taught me how to drive a pair. I spent many many hours trying to catch them. They definitely knew all the tricks!
In 2010, Ernie mysteriously damaged his supra-scapular nerve out in the field. Commonly known as Sweeney shoulder, Ernie looked like his shoulder was out of its socket when he walked.
Turns out horses don’t have shoulder sockets, rather, the supra-scapular nerve holds their shoulder in. Eight months and many acupuncture sessions, expertly given by Dr. Wendy Ying, Ernie returned to driving at age 18.
In 2011 and 2012, Ernie did several shows in the dressage only. However, shipping proved to be very tiresome and I decided to retire him. His recovery allowed him just enough time to teach Allie the ropes. Bert did not really like going to shows and driving with other ponies. His heart just wasn’t in it, so he retired the following year. Bert and Ernie very much enjoyed becoming feral once again!
Both Bert and Ernie developed Cushings disease and long furry coats. Ernie never let me clip him without being sedated, so I would always race to finish. I would clip him from front to back so the noise of the clippers didn’t wake him up as easily as it would if I did his head last.
Last fall, Ernie got a little laminitic, turned out to not be a major event, but I first noticed as he was trotting lame around the field instead of letting me catch him. He always let me know what he thought about things!
Ernie died September 14 from complications of choke/aspirating his grain. He was 23.
Bert seems to be doing ok so far, he has other pony friends, but none like his brother. On the last night, Bert kept calling Ernie, but Ernie was unable to reply, he could only lift his head and prick his ears. My heart broke for them. Ernie went from fine to gone in just twelve hours. I miss his little furry face.