If you have a frisky little pony and you live next to the wilderness, you don’t want space to out and leave the gate open, as Ashlander Carol Ingram did last week Monday, Jan. 2, in the early hours of the big snowstorm.

Maisie at first loped and hopped around the barnyard, but soon galloped up the hill, quickly disappearing from sight. It was getting dark, but Ingram raced up the hill after her, but soon all tracks were lost in the deepening snow.

She called the neighbors, the Sheriff’s office and checked Craigslist. Nothing.

“I sat on the porch and felt horrible, absolutely distraught. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

About 11 that evening, the Sheriff’s office called, saying they spotted a posting on Craigslist, saying a pony was found on the Red Queen trail and had been brought to the first house with a pasture on Ashland Loop Road, where it is now secure, with hay and water.

Overjoyed, Ingram knew it was her animal — but there was no answer on the phone. Early on Tuesday, Ingram got a lift to the home of Ruthe Woudenberg, who told her a runner found the pony, lost, scared, sweaty and tired on the trail and fashioned a halter out of his dog leash — then walked her back to civilization through the icy trails.

The animal, a “sweet friendly pony and a real character,” was “a mess, shell-shocked, full of brambles and obviously had sweated a lot,” but she walked the 8-year-old creature back home, to the top of Elkader Street, a couple miles, where she was greeted joyously by a companion horse and dog. 

End of story? Not quite. The runner who wrangled the pony to safety has disappeared, but she wants to thank him, give him a reward and dinner at his favorite restaurant because, “there is no doubt in my mind she would have died up there.”

The neighbors who took in the pony say the man was slender, had dark, curly hair, a short beard and a tri-colored dog named Bodie. They’re not sure of the man’s name but think it was maybe Jeb or Jed. 

“It was a real act of mercy," Ingram said. "He was like an angel, an anonymous hero and Samaritan. I went to the runner’s store asking if anyone knew him. They didn’t, but they loved the story. I just hope someone knows him and can call me at 541-890-3736."

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.