I Buried a Pony

No, this is not some reference to hidden lyrics in a Beatles song.

Nor is it a euphemism for something rude.

This is a story that I have told often, but only to the select few, given its unusual and gruesome nature.

During a recent “Emotional Intelligence” training course, we were asked to convey a story to the person sitting next to us and they were to “tick off” all the various “emotions” that they heard whilst “deeply” listening to the story.

I should point out that when discussing any kind of self-help training, it is essential to use a lot of “quote marks”.

Anyway, thinking of a story that one could tell in under 3 minutes, that was fit for public consumption and that involved an emotion or two was no easy feat.

I firstly chose The Black and White Ball story.

Sadly, in my haste to deliver the story, plus the fact that I had only just met the person sitting next to me, and also that it was generally not perfect conditions for spinning a yarn – I told the story in the most monotone and rushed manner possible. It could have passed for my best Stephen Hawking impersonation ever.

I told it so poorly that the receiver of the story could not find an ounce of emotion. In fact, I had to point out that the story did contain many emotions including lust, fear, dismay, longing, relief and contentment – they we just really well hidden.

So we agreed to move on and I instead talked about witnessing child birth and the associated rollercoaster of emotions – keeping it as fit for public consumption as possible, especially given that we had all just eaten morning tea.

The story that I wanted to tell, was that of Neddy the Pony.

Poor Neddy

When I first moved to Canberra in the early 90s, I lived with my sister on their farm out beyond Bungendore.

In typical hobby farm fashion, they purchased a pony for their young daughters to enjoy. Neddy was as cute as a button and bore a striking resemblance to the My Little Pony toy. He was just that delightful and brought great joy to the entire family.

Sadly however, the property was also inhabited by the fearful Common Tiger Snake, one of which brought the life of Neddy to an untimely end. This was upsetting stuff for all and sundry.

From the sadness came the inevitable and practical discussions on what to do with poor little Neddy’s remains. Obviously the longer he was left in the summer’s heat, the more difficult the task. I remember thinking that whatever the decision, you can count me out.

The next day it was decided to bury him. I remember looking out the window at my brother-in-law as he walked off towards Neddy with his shoulders hunched and shovel in hand and flies all over his back.

It was at that point I realised I had to put all my pony burying prejudices aside and help.

An interesting fact about burying a pony is that the hole required, is incredibly huge. A pony itself is quite voluminous, and so the hole must be much larger.

Without painting the picture in too much detail, digging a huge hole next to a dead pony was a difficult task in a difficult environment and we felt great relief once the hole had been dug.

However, something incredibly strange and unexpected yet morbidly funny happened.

As we heaved Neddy into the hole hoof first: He basically stood up.

He just stood there, in the hole.

No, he had not risen from the dead. Due to the wonders of “rigor mortis”, his legs were stiff and he stood completely upright in his newly dug grave.

My brother-in-law and I often reflect deeply about this moment when recanting this story. Because we know we both had the same expressions of bewilderment on our faces, and we know we were both thinking the same thing – “What the hell do we do now?”

Luckily, after possibly only a few seconds, Neddy starting sinking down into his grave and we were able to fill in the dirt and put him to rest.

The job was done and we wandered back to the house.

For years after that, I looked upon this moment as a morose achievement that not many people could match.

So you ran a marathon? Well, I buried a pony.

You cooked for thirty people? Well, I buried a pony.

You can put your ankles behind your neck? Impressive.

I buried a pony.