Harbour Grace family fighting for ponies

Nicholas Mercer nmercer@cbncompass.ca
Published on July 24, 2014

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 picture is 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

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.