A powerful little pony

Quesnel Fall Fair welcomes Napoleon as part of the annual event at Alex Fraser Park

Terry Nichols and her family have welcomed Napoleon to their household.

Terry Nichols and her family have welcomed Napoleon to their household.

Napoleon may be small in stature but he has a very big role to play once he’s completed his training.

Standing only about three feet high, Napoleon is a miniature pony who lives at Pen-Y-Bryn Farm. His best friend Gaston the bottle-fed calf, Terry and Paul Nichols’ entire family and every visitor to the farm can’t resist taking a moment to greet the pint-size equine.

Already well into his training for participation in the CHAAPS program, Napoleon is also planning on attending the Quesnel Fall Fair, Sept. 22 – 23 where he will be an ambassador not only for Pen-Y-Bryn and the many services offered by the farm but also for the facilitated theraputic programs administered by CHAAPS.

Terry explained they purchased Napoleon at the Quesnel livestock auction to replace a beloved pony who was no longer with them.

“He was six months old, completely untrained and not very friendly,” she said.

“He was pretty scared.”

However, Terry liked the look of the little guy and also expected to train him for the CHAAPS programs.

After about four months, Napoleon began to settle in to life at Pen-Y-Bryn, but he still wasn’t comfortable being approached.

When Terry recognized the pony’s reluctance to allow humans and other animals get too close, she tried a technique she’d learned.

Each time she sensed he was getting nervous, she’d back away. After about 20 efforts, Terry was again at a safe distance when Napoleon walked up to her and put his head in her lap.

“Everything changed after that,” she said.

With patience and respect, Napoleon came to them with a willingness to have a relationship – Terry said that was the turning point.

Although his training is ongoing, she’s confident Napoleon will integrate well into the CHAAPS programs.

Of the many preparations and the training the pony will have before CHAAPS clients are introduced to Napoleon, temperament testing is important.

“Once he’s passed that test, he’ll be well-suited to being a stepping stone to larger horse breeds,” Terry said.

“Napoleon will also provide children in wheelchairs a chance to experience grooming and leading. Eventually our goal is to train him to pull a cart and then those children can actually ride.”

This fall, Napoleon is scheduled to visit North Cariboo Christian School where his training continues.

“We also hope to take him to Dunrovin Park Lodge, where many of the residents’ lives included  horses and Napoleon provides the smells and the feel of horses, just not the size, which makes him accessible to the residents,” Terry said.

“Napoleon’s temperament is very accommodating to this. He’s patient, stands still very well and has good manners.”

At this point in Napoleon’s training, Terry said going to the Fall Fair will expose him to large numbers of people and a different environment.

The 18-month-old pony has settled well into the bed and breakfast crowd at Pen-Y-Bryn and offers guests a chance to experience farm life on a manageable scale.

“Kids love to walk him, groom him and learn about equine care with a patient, friendly teacher like Napoleon,” she added.

And with the CHAAPS programs at Pen-Y-Bryn growing, Terry expects Napoleon will be an excellent addition to the program.

“He’s already a valuable member of the Nichols family.”

In addition to meeting Napoleon, visitors to the Fall Fair can expect to see other livestock exhibits, Fur and Feather displays, activities throughout the grounds and in the Agriplex at Alex Fraser Park and the popular arts and agricultural I-X division in West Fraser Timber Room at the Arts and Rec Centre.

And admission is free. Pick up a program/prize book at Caryall Books, Visitors Centre, Co-op, Quesnel Ag Parts, Bouchie Lake Farm and Feed, contact Lisa, 250-992-9317, Judy, 250-747-4315 or e-mail quesnelfallfair@gmail.com.