Music: M-L Hammond/Tom Leighton Lyrics: M-L Hammond
This song is set in early 70s, not long after laws were passed, declaring that the ponies, which had roamed and grazed free until then, had to be fenced in, along with other livestock. This meant more expense and labour. At the same time, increasing mechanization of farming and other work meant that the ponies were sold off by the thousands, mostly to be slaughtered for meat. As a result the breed is severely endangered, with fewer than 400 in existence as of 2012.
Diddle-ee dye-di dum, diddle-ee dye-di day
we were born on the Rock, of hardy stock, and the Rock is where we’ll stay
with the cliffs and trees and the foggy seas, diddle-ee dye-di dee
oh, together we’re grand, my Newfoundland pony and me
My pony he’s descended from more breeds than I can tell
like the Highland, Welsh, and Exmoor, the Dartmoor and the Fell
that came here with the settlers for to work this rugged place
and now their blood has joined to form a new and sturdy race
My Prince he stands about 13 hands, he’s a handsome brackety* grey
and when I hitch him to the plough he’ll pull and pull all day
We’ve hauled logs from out of the woods and kelp on the beaches too
His heart’s as big as Conception Bay, there’s nothing he won’t do!
He’ll pick his way on a rocky ledge and never slip or fail
and when I’ve had a drop or two, he’ll keep me on the trail
he’ll take my boy to school at eight and come back on his own,
and then we’ll send him out at three and he brings the laddie home
Our ponies used to roam at large and graze along the way
but now the law says fence them in and pay for feed and hay
So folks are buying tractors now while the ponies disappear
But I swear by the moon and the snows in June, old Prince he’s staying here!
* brackety: Newfoundland dialect for spotted, dappled
Special thanks to Paul Aird for inspiring me to write this song and for letting me borrow the line about pulling the plough all day from his poem about the Newfoundland Pony; and also to Bob Bossin for letting me borrow “I swear by the moon and the snows in June” from his song “Newfoundlanders.”