Yesterday, the Pips’ Mama Elizabeth tromped off the balds of Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia after three nights of camping, jumped in her Subaru, and headed almost straight for my shower.
I say almost, because I had to feed the girl first…she was nearly see-through…then sit her butt down for a report on the round-up going on at the park.
This Saturday, (September 26 at 2pm), the Wilburn Ridge Pony Association will hold its annual auction of the wild ponies, a tradition that dates back to the 1970’s. The auction is part of the Grayson Highlands Fall Festival, celebrating southwestern Virginia’s mountain heritage.
Right now there are sixteen ponies in the corral. A bait pen is used for catching and holding the ponies before it is decided who will be corralled for the auction and who will be returned to the wild. The idea is to cull the bands by auctioning the young ones, some born only a few months ago, others already yearlings or two year olds. Sometimes the mares will be auctioned with their very young foals, other times they are separated forever, either at the holding pen or in the auction ring.
I was anxious to know whether Marilyn and her foal had been corralled. The first time I met Marilyn, she was packing a big Pistol in her belly. Yet she was as gorgeous and flashy as her namesake. And so photogenic…I couldn’t stop shooting…just like she couldn’t stop posing. There we were… together in this Vanity Fair Mare cover shoot…click-pose-click-pose…Demi Mare naked and pregnant for the cover.
Next visit to the park, I was tickled silly to meet her lil dude. Marilyn the mama…so proud and watchful of her son…yet she seemed to encourage his new celebrity status. She had me pegged as pony paparazzi and Pistol Pete, her starlet.
Elizabeth filled me in then headed back to the park. I tease her about being the Jane Goodall of wild ponies. I know she would correct me by saying…”they are feral ponies.” I think she’s a little feral too. Is it rubbing off? Honestly, I’d rather be called a ‘wild thing’ than a ‘feral thing.’ Stay-tuned for more on the auction and the tale of Pistol Pete.