Flashback Friday – Good Old Jerry

Carl Fisher’s retired polo pony, Jerry (left), at Fisher’s stables | Courtesy of the Montauk Historical Society

Jerry was the first polo pony that Carl Fisher purchased, and he was his favorite right to the end.

“In the Roaring Twenties if a young man flunked out of Harvard, Princeton or Yale, it was possible to salvage the family name by measuring him for a padded pith helmet and sending him off to distinguish himself on the polo fields of Long Island and Miami Beach,” explained a tongue-in-cheek column in the Miami News in 1965 about Fisher’s interest in polo.

As Fisher developed luxury resorts in Miami Beach and Montauk, he was well aware of the social prestige, especially among Anglophiles, that could be gained by including polo fields. So he had fields put in, and he also kept a stable of 20 to 30 ponies for his own use and that of his friends, both in the North and South.

The popular humorist Will Rogers was among Fisher’s friends who had the pleasure of riding Jerry. Jerry was somewhat maligned in a 1939 obituary for Fisher as a “flea-bitten gray,” but it was conceded that he started out speedy.

“He had a strange habit of pumping his tail wildly before taking off in pursuit of the willow root ball,” one article said. “Fisher managed to keep his pince-nez glasses in place despite strenuous postures posed during the game.”

When Jerry did slow down, Fisher sold him, but took him back when he realized that the new owner was using spurs to force him to go faster. Fisher reinstated the pony in his former stall in Florida and shipped him north each summer to pasture in Montauk.

It is here, during Jerry’s retirement, where some lovely text that is in the possession of the Montauk Historical Society picks up the tale.  Still installed in Montauk as of September on Montauk’s cool, grassy hills, Jerry is described as being blessed with abundant food and the freedom to roam, yet yearning to join the younger ponies who take off from the stables carrying riders. “Jerry is some 22 years old, and no longer fit for riding, but ‘he can have the finest stall and the best treatment of any pony in the stable as long as he lives,’ says Mr. Fisher, who bought him almost 20 years ago.”

Fisher treasured the stable halter of his favorite pony, it was reported years later, and he kept it hanging in the library of his home in Miami Beach.

Courtesy of the Montauk Historical Society

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