Harbour Grace’s Harrison Verge has a love for the Newfoundland pony.
He’s been around them his entire life.
Verge’s father traded horses when he was younger. Verge would even accompany his father on deals, sometimes having to ride the animal home.
It’s why he has always bred horses and why he spent the last year searching for what he calls ‘the kingpin.’
It was two weeks ago when Verge became the owner of Admiral Shalloway, a 25-year-old Newfoundland stallion. More than that, Shalloway is a foundation stallion.
Foundation stallions were a group of seven selected by the Newfoundland Pony Society to represent the finest stock of horse.
Later, seven more lines underwent DNA testing and were added to the classification of foundation.
“There’s nothing like a foundation because that’s the clear blood,” said Verge.
To go along with the stallions, a similar exercise was performed with a group of 14 mares.
According to Verge, Shalloway is quite a rare animal. Of the 14 lines, there are but five left in the world and only three left in the province.
“You’ve never seen anything like him. He’s a beauty, he’s a darling,” said Verge.
Verge’s quest to find Shalloway started a year ago when he stumbled upon the offspring of the horse by accident.
Verge and his daughter, Darlene Ulvstal, were in contact with a Saskatchewan woman who was selling a large number of Newfoundland ponies.
Upon doing some research, the pair discovered Admiral Shalloway sired two of the mares being sold.
“I said, ‘he’s got to be out there somewhere,’” said Verge.
He worked the phones tirelessly in an effort to pinpoint the location of Shalloway. Verge, who was sitting on his reddish couch, grabbed his telephone bill, pointing a particular bill multiple sheets long.
“I was on the phone for hours,” he said.
Darlene, from her home in Prince Edward Island, did the equivalent on the Internet.
Finally a month ago, the fruits of their labours were realized when Shalloway was found in Alberta under the care of Allen and Ruth Hann.
“We’re very fortunate that these nice people let him come back here,” said Verge.
Some $2,100 and 6,700 kilometres later and Admiral Shalloway was in Harbour Grace.
Shalloway is an exquisite animal. Nearly completely white, the stallions short stature betrays the strength and power he contains.
As Verge shows off his prized animal, Shalloway effortlessly scoops his head for a feed of green grass. In the process, his owner struggles briefly to bring his back to level.
It’s no surprise, really. The Newfoundland pony was bred as an all-purpose animal and is known for a variety of traits including, strength, courage, intelligence, obedience, willingness and common sense.
“They’re very, very quiet,” said Verge.
The pony has been classified as a heritage animal by the provincial government and there are less than 400 animals left.
Verge sees Shalloway was a way to preserve a key piece of Newfoundland culture and heritage.
“This is our history here,” he said. “This goes back 500 years and they roamed free on this island.”
Verge said each area had its own type of Newfoundland pony. The horse found on the Avalon Peninsula would show different characteristics from a pony found in Marystown.
“They have their own breed,” he said. “They have their own DNA code.”
When speaking about the pony, it is easy to tell Verge has a strong passion for the horse.
It is steeped in his belief that the pony is a symbol of Newfoundland and its people.
“I love everything about horses,” said Verge.