Har­bour Grace fam­ily fight­ing for ponies

The Compass - - OPINION - BYNICHOLASMERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

There is a spe­cial pic­ture rest­ing on the man­tle of Dar­lene Ulvstal’s South Pinette, P.E.I., home.

The pic­ture has Dar­lene as a babe walk­ing down Har­vey Street in Har­bour Grace with her fa­ther and great grand­fa­ther, both named Har­ri­son Verge.

In a mo­ment of spon­tane­ity, Dar­lene is quickly placed in the arms of her great grand­fa­ther who is steer­ing a pony down the street while sat in a car­riage.

It is at this point when the snapped.

“He never let any­one take his pic­ture,” said Dar­lene, adding the la­bel of rar­ity to the pic­ture.

This pic­ture rep­re­sents a cou­ple of things. First, It is a vis­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of her deep con­nec­tion to the New­found­land pony.

Some might say, it is where the pony planted a seed in her that would blos­som later in life.

The pic­ture fore­shad­ows the fu­ture con­nec­tion be­tween fa­ther, daugh­ter and horse.

For the past year, Har­ri­son and Dar­lene have been work­ing to­gether to bring some of the lost foun­da­tion lines back to New­found­land.

It started with Ad­mi­ral Shal­loway, which has been fol­lowed by John Peter Payne, an off­spring of Rusty the Black River, a foun­da­tion stal­lion. “He’s a beau­ti­ful horse,” said Har­ri­son. A jet-black stal­lion, Payne re­sem­bles a more com­pact ver­sion of the horse found in the pages of Wal­ter Far­ley’s The Black Stal­lion.

Be­fore mak­ing the trip to New­found­land, Payne stayed in P.E.I. with Dar­lene on her ranch.

“A lovely pony, we re­ally miss him,” she said.

Es­tab­lish­ing the pony

pic­ture

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This might seem like another story about a horse, but it is more than that.

It is about a fam­ily’s de­sire to es­tab­lish the New­found­land pony to the grandeur it once had.

“It’s a real shame,” said Dar­lene. “It was a part of our cul­ture. “If there’s noth­ing done, it will be gone.” To the end, Dar­lene and her fa­ther Har­ri­son have been work­ing tire­lessly to bring back these valu­able blood­lines.

Dar­lene scours the In­ter­net, while her fa­ther uses the phone. To­gether, they aim to es­tab­lish a breed­ing pro­gram to help re­sus­ci­tate the pro­gram. “It has to be a joint ef­fort,” said Dar­lene. “She has the In­ter­net knowl­edge and I know about horses,” added Har­ri­son.

Send­ing ponies

To help kick-start this, Har­ri­son will be trav­el­ling with the stal­lions to P.E.I to mate with the mares Dar­lene has on her land.

When the foles are born, they will be sent back to New­found­land.

That will not be the only thing be­ing shared. Har­ri­son will be di­vulging much of the knowl­edge he has at­tained about rear­ing horses with his daugh­ter.

“It’s a huge thing to work on this to­gether,” said Dar­lene.

In the end, it will be a fam­ily ef­fort be­ing made to bring the New­found­land pony back from the brink.

“Not a lot of peo­ple get to do that,” said Dar­lene.

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Har­ri­son Verge (left) and his daugh­ter Dar­lene Ulvstal are work­ing to start a breed­ing pro­gram for the New­found­land pony.

Har­bour Grace’s Har­ri­son Verge is shown here with foun­da­tion New­found­land stal­lions John Peter Payne (left) and Ad­mi­ral Shal­loway.

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