Today’s Horse Facts: The Missouri Fox Trotter – Dependable

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride

The Missouri Fox Trotter: Dependable

(To see a picture of this horse, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Fox_Trotter )

“Thy word is true from the beginning.”

(Psalm 119:160a)

When farmers, plantation owners, and ranchers started settling our newly formed United States, they looked for a hardy, muscular horse that could do ranch work yet take the family members on a dependable trail ride. So in the early 1800s, the settlers of the Ozarks in Missouri developed a sure-footed horse that could perform work including working cattle, plowing fields, and hauling logs. But that same horse had to serve as the family’s fancy buggy and riding horse in the evening’s activities.

The Missouri Fox Trotter, developed from horses from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, filled that need to the “T.”  Crossbreeding with Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, Morgans, American Saddlebreds, and Standardbreds made the Trotter smoother and stronger. This versatile equine, able to travel great distances at a comfortable five- to-eight miles an hour, made the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, traveling preacher, and rancher. In just a short time, the gaited Trotter gained notoriety for his stamina and smooth gaits.

In 1948, Trotter enthusiasts founded the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) in Ava, Missouri with an open stud book that registered all horses with the fox trot gait and other specified physical characteristics describing the horse. Interest around the world grew, and the first Fox Trotters were exported to Europe in the 1950s when the Queen of England imported several palomino Trotters. The breed’s popularity increased to the point that Missouri Fox Trotters are now seen throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and several European countries. As of 2012 the MFTHBA had registered over 97,000 horses with over 8,000 members. It’s no surprise that the state of Missouri thinks highly of this unique equine. He’s so special that in 2002, the state honored the Missouri Fox Trotter by naming him the official state horse of Missouri.

Missouri Fox Trotters come in all colors, including spotted and buckskin. You’ll often see them with white facial and leg markings. They’re muscular and have sloped shoulders, a short back, and sturdy legs. They stand at 14 to 16 hands and weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds.

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride. He’s most known today for his ambling gait, the “fox trot,” a four-beat smooth gait in which the front foot of the diagonal pair lands before the hind pair. He’s in demand for use in all kinds of show classes including pleasure, trail riding, endurance, and cross country. Because of his surefootedness and endurance in rough countryside, he’s used by hunters and National Forestry Service rangers. You can often spot him in movies because of his gentle nature and willingness to work. Handicapped riding programs also use him because his smooth gait has proven to be beneficial for riders with minor physical disabilities. Wow! Would you agree “dependable” describes the Missouri Fox Trotter better than any other word?

Are you “dependable” like the Missouri Fox Trotter? If you’re dependable, you can be trusted to complete tasks you’re asked to do. Would your parent or teacher say you are dependable, or do you forget to do jobs you’re asked to do? A Christian should be dependable because the God we love and serve is dependable.

The Bible tells us that we can depend on Jesus to be our Savior. He shed His blood and died on the cross to save anyone who believes in Him. The Bible is also dependable. Every word of it is true, which tells us about our wonderful God and the home in heaven we’ll have one day. We have a God on whom we can depend.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being the God I can depend on. I also thank you for the Bible that tells me that believing in Jesus as my Savior makes me ready for heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of some responsibilities your parent or teacher might want you to do. Then decide to be dependable and finish the tasks on time.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Fox Trotters were the first horses to carry riders down the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Miniature Horse – He’s for Real!

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds.

The Miniature Horse: No Doubt He’s for Real!

(To see a picture of a Miniature Horse, go to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_horse)

“I’m writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. I’m writing so you will know that you have eternal life.”

(1 John 5:13 NIRV)

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds. In fact, he’s so much like the big guys, if you’d see a Miniature Horse standing in a pasture somewhere, you might think he’s just a statue of a larger horse.

The Miniature Horse is just that—a horse, not a pony. We can trace his history back to the 17th Century in Europe when kings and nobles admired such different horses and sought to raise them. But many other Miniature Horses, or “Minis,” who weren’t fortunate enough to live in a king’s barn worked as “pit ponies” inside mines. Sometimes those poor little horses lived inside the mines and never saw the light of day. The English began using ponies in their mines after the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 prohibited the use of young children.

The first small horses in the United States date back to 1861, when a tiny-horse enthusiast, John Rarey, brought four Shetland Ponies, one only 24 inches tall, to our country. Throughout the late 1800s and into mid-1900, more Minis came from English and Dutch mines to work in coal mines in the U.S. Then in the 1960s, horse lovers as well as the general public developed a real interest in Miniature Horses, which, fortunately, brought the Minis out of the mines and into sport and show competition.

Over the years as more interest grew in the Minis, they were crossbred with other breeds such as the Hackney for a more handsome look and more nimble footwork. Although almost all Minis can’t be ridden even by children, they’re still very popular and are used in all kinds of competition such as driving, obstacle courses, and halter. Because they’re so small, easy to keep, and interact well with humans, many Minis have important jobs. They’re often kept as family pets, (although the Minis still have “horse” traits), and they also can be trained as service animals, doing the same things that dogs do who work for folks with special needs.

So how tiny is tiny? Take a yardstick and stand it on end. That’s about the height of a Miniature Horse. Because they’re so small, they’re measured in inches not in hands. Any color or combination of colors is acceptable, so Minis come in a large variety of splashy colors, including palomino, pinto, and even a cross between a pinto and an Appaloosa called a “Pintaloosa.”

You can find two registries in the United States for Miniature Horses, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). Founded in 1978, the AMHA started establishing the Miniature Horse as a distinct breed. Today there are dozens of miniature horse registries all over the world. Some of the registries want the breeding of Minis to keep horse characteristics, while other associations want their Minis to have pony characteristics. Along with all these different general Miniature Horse associations, there are also registries for specific types of Minis, such as the Falabella and the South African Miniature Horse.

Minis are healthy animals, often living longer than some full-sized horses. The average life span of Miniature Horses is from 25 to 35 years. Minis have become so popular all around the world that their associations have more than 12,000 enthusiasts in over 30 countries.  For those Mini lovers, there’s no doubt the little equine is a horse in every sense of the word.

Doubt. In our lives, doubt can surface at any time. Have you ever doubted it would stop raining for the family picnic? Or have you doubted whether you’d like the new broccoli casserole or not? Maybe you’ve doubted if you’d ever finish your tons of homework in one evening. Or maybe you’ve doubted if you’ll ever get that puppy or pair of sneakers you want so badly. But there’s one thing you should never doubt.

The Bible tells us when we accept Jesus as our Savior we should never doubt our salvation. When we become Christians, that doesn’t mean we’ll never sin or make mistakes again. It also doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians anymore. All God wants us to do is ask for forgiveness, and He does forgive. God’s Word says we only ever have to ask Christ into our lives one time, and from that moment on, we never have to doubt that we are Christians ever again.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for giving me eternal life that can never be taken away from me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of  anything that might cause you to doubt whether you’re a Christian or not. Ask God to forgive you, and He will. Remember, once a Christian, always a Christian.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The AMHA has nearly 230,000 registered Miniatures.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” ( 2 Timothy 3: 14-15 NIRV).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Lusitano – Same Horse, Different Name

Although cave paintings in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) have revealed the presence of horses there for thousands of years, the Lusitano from Portugal is one of the breeds “officially created” in recent time.

The Lusitano: Same Horse, Different Name

(to see a picture of a Lusitano, please go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusitano)

“…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

(Acts 11:26b)

Although cave paintings in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) have revealed the presence of horses there for thousands of years, the Lusitano from Portugal is one of the breeds “officially created” in recent time. The registry name of this breed is Puro Sangue Lusitano (Pure´oh   San´gwee  Lou sah tan´ oh), the Latin name for Portugal. But he’s also known as the Portuguese, Peninsular, National, or Betico-lusitano horse. What’s quite strange about the Lusitano is he originated as an Andalusian. A Portuguese Andalusian.

The Andalusians have their roots back to 711 A.D. when the Muslim Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula and brought Barb horses with them. The Moors crossbred their steeds with the native horses and developed an equine useful for war, bull fighting, and even dressage. This new horse became a favorite of the Conquistadors, who introduced him in the Americas between the 16th to the 18th Centuries. Known as “the Iberian war horse,” that ancestor of the Lusitano served in battle as well as at important riding academies throughout Europe.

The Portuguese Andalusian and the Spanish Andalusian have had very similar characteristics for hundreds of years. However, in 1966, the Portuguese breeders wanted to develop their own horse, an even more nimble yet strong equine with the ability to move quickly around a charging bull in the bullfighting ring. (In Portuguese bullfighting, the bull is not killed.)  Thus, the breeders split the Portuguese and Spanish stud books of the Andalusians, and the Portuguese one became known as the Lusitano, after the word “Lusitania,” the ancient Roman name for Portugal.

The Lusitano horses’ heights range from 15 to 15.3 hands.  They can be any solid color including black, dun, and palomino but are usually gray, chestnut, or bay. They have a Roman nose, which is stouter than a more refined “dish face” you see on breeds like the Arabian. Because of the heavy work they’re called to do, the Lusitanos have great muscle strength and agility; yet, they’re intelligent and very willing to please.

Today’s Lusitanos are very versatile. They’ve built quite a reputation for dressage, winning medals in several Olympics and World Equestrian Games over the last few years as part of Portuguese and Spanish dressage teams. They also have done well in driving competitions with a Belgian team of Lusitanos winning many international awards.

The breed is still used in bloodless bullfighting today, where it is expected that neither horse nor bull will be injured. Horses bred for this sport must be agile and calm, and when confronted by the bull, they must “keep their head.” Much of the horse’s and rider’s safety depends on the skill of the horse and his ability to avoid the charging bull. In fact, it’s considered a disgrace to the rider if the horse is injured in any way.

Today Lusitanos are found mostly in Portugal and Brazil, but they can be found in many other countries including Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, some European countries, and the U.S. Between 1980 and 1987, Lusitanos were even used for breeding Colorado Ranger horses, but today those crosses are no longer allowed by the breed registry.

With the popularity of this breed worldwide just in recent years, we should not forget his roots. Andalusian. Thanks to Portuguese horse enthusiasts, the Portuguese Andalusian breed, now called the Lusitano, became stronger and more nimble. What we now have is the same but improved horse with a different name!

Do you realize that people sometimes change their names for different reasons? God also has a special name for those who decide to love and serve Him. The Bible says that, although we might appear to be the same on the outside, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become “improved” on the inside, and we are then called Christians. Being improved means we now have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to do what’s right and to say no to sin.

Have you asked Jesus to save you and make you ready for heaven? If so, do your family and friends call you a Christian?  If you honor the Lord Jesus by your attitude and actions, then you’ll be known as a Christ follower or a Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to have the right attitude and actions so that my family and friends will have no trouble calling me a Christian. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Besides the name “Christian,” think of a few other names you’d like to be called (Example: “kind,” “friendly”). Do your attitude and actions merit those names?

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The bond between early Iberian people and their horses was so strong, it’s believed the original fables about the centaur (half man/half horse creature) originated in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19b).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Lippizan – He and his Rider are One!

The Lipizzan is one of the most beautiful horses in God’s creation. He’s known as “the dancer.”

The Lipizzan: He and his Rider are One!

To see a photo of a Lipizzan horse, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipizzan 

“…believe these works. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me

and I am in the Father.”

(John 10:38b NIRV)

The Lipizzan is one of the most beautiful horses in God’s creation. He’s known as “the dancer” and is considered the ambassador of all the fancy horse performances: classical dressage.

The dressage this equine has perfected is completely different from what you see in the familiar dressage performance in a horse show or the Olympics. The Lipizzan, with powerful haunches, performs high jumping and kicking movements such as the piaffe (pee´ af) and passage (pass sahg´). Strange as it seems, the Lipizzan was specifically bred for an ancient art form that began as training for cavalry mounts.

The Lipizzan’s roots go back to the Muslim Moors, who occupied Spain from about 711 to 1492 and considered the Spanish horses the supreme cavalry mount. By the 16th Century, when the Habsburgs ruled Spain and Austria, they wanted to develop a powerful but agile horse for the military and for use in the popular riding schools for the European nobility. In 1562, Habsburg Emperor Maximillian II brought the Spanish Andalusian horse to Austria. In 1580, his brother, Archduke Charles II, perfected a similar stud near the village of Lipizza (now called Lipica) in Slovenia (a small country just south of Austria).

The White Stallions of Vienna at the Spanish Riding School in Austria came from that lineage.  The Lipizzans, (only stallions), still train at the world-renowned school to learn the complicated and beautiful movements called “airs above the ground.” The horses arrive when they’re four years old and train an average of six years. They graduate when they’ve mastered all the skills required to perform perfectly before large audiences all around the world. Despite their demanding work, Lipizzans are an extremely hardy breed. Some have been able to perform the difficult exercises well into their 20s and have lived into their 30s.

Over the last century, the breed has been endangered numerous times by wars in Europe. Fortunately, horse enthusiasts have stepped in every time and rescued them. The most famous rescue occurred during World War II by General George S. Patton and our American troops. The 1963 Disney movie “Miracle of the White Stallions” made that rescue famous. Besides being featured in the Disney movie, Lipizzans have also starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, and books. In 2005, the Spanish Riding School toured the U.S. to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Patton’s rescue.

Today, all Lipizzans standing between 14 and 16 hands trace their bloodlines to eight stallions. Various breed registries also recognize 35 mare lines. The majority of horses, 11,000 in 19 countries, are registered through the Lipizzan International Federation. Most Lipizzans are in Europe, but small numbers can be found in the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

Watching a performing Lipizzan, you’d think he’s pure white. However, most Lipizzans are not true white horses. They’re gray. Like all grays, they have black skin, dark eyes, and a coat that looks white. They’re born dark—usually bay or black—and become lighter each year until they’re between six and ten years old.

Because the Lipizzans are the only breed of horse developed in Slovenia, the Slovenians are proud to call the Lipizzan their national animal. They’ve even honored the horse by featuring a pair of Lipizzans on the 20-cent Slovenian euro coins.

Who can blame the people of Slovenia when considering their amazing dancing Lipizzans? If you ever have the privilege to see the Lipizzans in person, you’ll probably sit in awe of their magnificent performance. But those horses didn’t just happen to be that way.

The Lipizzans perform at the whim of skilled riders who, with the slightest signal of their hands or feet, direct the horses to execute their moves.  Each horse and his rider move so perfectly together, they appear as one body, stunning the audiences with their spectacular maneuvers.

There are three important persons who also work together as one unit, and that’s God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many times in the scriptures, Jesus claimed that He and God are one. Therefore, Jesus claimed to be God, and rightfully so. We can’t fully understand what Jesus meant when He said that He is one with God, but the Bible says to believe in faith that it’s true.

Sadly, many people in the world today think Jesus was just a good man or a prophet of God, but not the Son of God, who is equal with God. If that were the case, Jesus couldn’t be our Savior because only a perfect sacrifice can forgive our sins and make us ready for heaven.

If you believe that God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Son are “one” and that Jesus is your Savior, then you are on your way to heaven. With all the miracles Jesus performed on earth, how could He be anyone other than God in the flesh? Thank Him for being your Savior.

PRAYER: Dear God, although I might not understand how You, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus can be “one,” I believe it by faith. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and dying for my sins.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Read the following verses in the Bible to see the miracles Jesus performed:

Matthew 14: 15- 21 ____________________________________________________________

Mark 3: 1-5 __________________________________________________________________

John 11: 14, 38-44 _____________________________________________________________

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The Spanish Riding School has a long-standing tradition to have at least one bay Lipizzan stallion in the stables, continued through the present day.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse – A Rule Follower

This smooth-riding horse is related to the Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited breeds. Unfortunately, the exact details of his beginnings are unknown.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse: A Rule Follower

(To see a picture of this horse, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_Mountain_Saddle_Horse)

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

 (Colossians 3:15)

            The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a breed from ___? You guessed it, the state of Kentucky.  This fabulous horse probably has his roots in smooth-gaited horses from the southeastern United States and the now-extinct Narragansett Pacer. He’s related to the Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited breeds, but, unfortunately, the exact details of his beginnings are unknown.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse has a similar history to the Rocky Mountain Horse. These two breeds are sometimes called “Mountain Pleasure Horses.” Plantation owners looking for a powerful work horse developed the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, which could also offer a comfortable, safe ride to the family members. Breeding eventually produced this equine’s gentle temperament. He became the perfect mount not only for long travel over rough terrain but also for frequent family use. Even today, the breed has the reputation of being an excellent riding horse as well as a reliable mount for rugged trail riding.

This amazing horse rides “rocking chair smooth” for one reason. He has a natural ambling gait, which is completely different from the trot of most other breeds. The rider experiences smoothness because the horse always has at least one foot on the ground when he’s “ambling.”

Interest in the breed increased throughout the 20th Century, and in 1989, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association (KMSHA) started. Because of the popularity of the breed with excessive white markings and pinto colors, in 2002 an additional Spotted Mountain Horse Association (SMHA) started to register Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses with a lot of white. Thus, there are two different registries today: one for “solid” horses and one for pintos.

Because the history and lineage of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is not known, the two associations did extensive studies and formed detailed guidelines that any horse must follow to be registered as a Saddle Horse. Space doesn’t allow for the listing of pages of all the rules and regulations, but let’s take a look at a few:

  1. A Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse must stand above 11 hands to be registered. Taller horses are divided into two categories: Class A horses stand taller than 14.2 hands while Class B horses stand at 11 to 14.1 hands.
  2. A horse registered with the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association can be all solid colors with white markings allowed on the face, legs, and small patches on the belly no larger than the size of the palm of a hand.
  3. A horse with excessive white, including a full white face, white above the knees or hocks, or any pinto markings must register with the Spotted Mountain Horse Association.
  4. The horse must have a flat facial profile, a mid-length, well-arched neck, a deep chest and well-sloped shoulders.
  5. The horse must display a gentle temperament and willing disposition. Any horse that is unruly or unmanageable will not be accepted for certification.
  6. The horse must have a smooth, comfortable, and natural four beat under saddle.
  7. The horse may be barefoot or have shoes on all four hooves.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse certainly has to follow a ton of rules to be a member of his exclusive club!

How would you like to be a member of a family or a club with so many rules? What if you had to have purple hair or weigh two hundred pounds to be a member of your family? What if you had to get all A’s in every test you take in school to pass to the next grade?

You probably think those rules just mentioned are ridiculous. But God has given us many good rules in the Bible, which help us live a successful and happy life. Some of those rules are the Ten Commandments, which are a guide for us to follow.

However, some people believe that by following the Ten Commandments they can work their way to heaven. Sadly, they also believe they have to follow a long list of other rules to win God’s favor, and then He’ll let them into Heaven.  But that’s not what the Bible says. Once we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, heaven is promised to us. All the rules God has given us are to be used as a guide to help us live the Christian life.

Remember, there are good rules your parents and teachers have set to help you grow into a responsible, happy adult. And there are good rules God has given you to help you grow into a responsible, happy Christian. Always thank Jesus that He made the way to heaven with his sacrifice on the cross, and you don’t have to try to keep a lot of rules to get there.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me obey the rules You and others in my life have set for me. I know they’re for my good.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

What are some rules your parents or teachers have that you think are for your good? Determine to obey them the best you can.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is the member of an exclusive club of more than thirty horse breeds that are “gaited,” able to perform a four-beat ambling gait.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:174).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Highland Pony – Willing to Serve

To find the Highland Pony, hop on a plane in Iceland and fly about 600 miles southeast to Scotland, a country that’s part of the United Kingdom in Europe. The Icelanders have their Icelandic Horse; the Scots have their Highland Pony!

The Highland Pony: Willing to Serve

(To see a photo of a Highland Pony, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_pony

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

 (Isaiah 6:8)

To find the Highland Pony, hop on a plane in Iceland and fly about 600 miles southeast to Scotland, a country that’s part of the United Kingdom in Europe. The Icelanders have their Icelandic Horse; the Scots have their Highland Pony!

The Highland Pony is one of three breeds from the Scottish Highlands and Islands along with the Shetland Pony and the predominantly gray Eriskay (Er´ is kay) Pony. In the 16th Century, French and Spanish explorers brought horses, including Percherons (heavy draft horses), to Scotland. In the 19th Century, crossbreeding with Hackneys, Fell Ponies, and Dales Ponies gave us the Highland of today.

Because this pony survived in a tough environment of mountains and moorlands for several hundred years, he’s the largest and strongest of the native ponies in the British Isles. (A moorland is an upland habitat with low-growing vegetation on acidic soils.)  The Scots soon discovered that, besides the Highland being tough and hardy, he rarely needed shoes, and he was easy to keep. Therefore, even though the pony only stands between 13 and 14.2 hands, he became a valuable member of the workforce for farmers and lumberjacks. He also became a prized pack animal, carrying a hunter’s kill that often weighed 200 pounds. The Scots called him an “all-rounder” and valued him greatly because of his willingness to work hard, his surefootedness, and his strength.

The Highland Pony Society has strict color restrictions on its special horse; yet the pony’s colors are quite numerous. He’s mainly dun, but he can be gray, brown, black, and a dark chestnut. He can have a stripe and zebra markings on the legs along with soft, silky feathering on his feet. Other acceptable colors include “mouse,” “yellow,” cream dun, and red dun.

A coloring mark unique to the Highland is what’s called a “transverse stripe,” a streak of dark hair that crosses over the withers on both sides of the pony’s body. Colors such as pinto are not allowed. Stallions with white markings other than a small star on the forehead can’t be licensed by the Highland Pony Society, and no white markings other than a star, white legs, or white hooves are allowed in the Highland Pony show ring. Regardless of his coat color, the Highland must always have a flaxen mane and tail, which make his appearance quite handsome.

Over the centuries, the Highland has adapted to the often severe climate of Scotland, mostly due to his amazing coat very similar to the Icelandics.  The Highland’s winter coat consists of a waterproof layer of strong, thick hair over a softer yet dense undercoat. (The waterproof coat came from his Eriskay Pony.) When the coat sheds in the spring, a smoother summer coat emerges. Although the Highland is known for his toughness and hardiness, those traits are balanced by a kind attitude and easy-going temperament, willing to do whatever he’s asked. And he’s asked to do a lot!

Today the Highlands still work hard on farms in Scotland but are also valued as a prized family pony.  His other uses include logging, hauling deer carcasses from the hills, and trekking (trail riding sometimes for several days).

Wow, look at all the jobs this little pony can do! Would you agree the Highland has a willing spirit to do anything his owner asks of him? What a sweet and kind attitude he has. He has what we call a “servant’s heart”!

Would you say that you have a servant’s heart? Are you willing to do whatever is asked of you with a sweet attitude?  How about your schoolwork? Your chores around the house?

If you love Jesus and want to please Him, then you might have a servant’s heart. Someone with a servant’s heart is willing to do whatever God asks of Him. Even at your young age, you can pray and ask God if He wants to use you in a special way when you grow up.

You’re never too young to start being a Christian with a servant’s heart.

PRAYER: Dear God, today I give my life to you for service. I’m willing to do anything and go anywhere to ask of me. I thank Jesus for giving His own life for me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

What you’d be willing to do for God when you grow up? Think of some things you could do now because you love Jesus and are thankful for his salvation.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  There are only about 5,500 Highlands in the world today, most of them in Europe. Despite how popular the Highland is, he’s still categorized as “At Risk” by horse experts.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3: 23-24).

Do you love to read books about kids and horses?

Check out Book One in the Keystone Stables Series: A HORSE TO LOVE  

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Icelandic – A National Treasure!

Can you guess where the Icelandic horse has his roots? If you said Iceland, you are correct. Do you know where Iceland is?

The Icelandic Horse: A National Treasure!

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power

 may be of God, and not of us.”

 (2 Corinthians 4:7)

To see a picture of the Icelandic Horse, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_horse

Can you guess where the Icelandic horse has his roots? If you said Iceland, you are correct. Do you know where Iceland is?

Iceland is a small, island (considered a country of Europe) not too far from Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean where the weather can be frigid and downright nasty. Despite the climate, Icelandic horses are easy to keep and very hardy, and the bitter cold temperatures don’t bother him at all. The reason? They have a double coat for extra insulation.

The Icelandic horse’s beginnings date back to the 9th and 10th Centuries when Norsemen (Scandinavian Vikings) settled on Iceland and brought their ponies with them. If you check the Icelandic historical records and literature, you’ll find the breed mentioned often, the first reference as early as the 12th Century.  Because the Norse settlers honored their horses and brought their Norse mythology and traditions with them, the Icelanders of today have their “very own horse,” which they consider a treasure.

Although the Icelandic has the characteristics and height of a pony, the cute little guy is considered a horse.  Several theories have emerged as to why Icelandics are always called horses, among them the breed’s spirited temperament and friendly personality. Although they only weigh between 730 and 840 pounds and stand at 13 to 14 hands, breed registries always refer to Icelandics as horses. They also have heavier bones and are able to carry tremendous weights, which suggest a “horse” classification.

A very unique trait of the Icelandic is his amazing coat colors. The breed comes in all different shades, over 100 in all, including dun, bay, black, gray, palomino, pinto and roan. Along with the variety of colors, the Icelandic adds to his attractive looks with a full mane and flowing tail.  Another unique trait the Icelandic has is two extra gaits in addition to the walk, trot, and canter that other breeds all have. Thus, he’s often called a “five-gaited horse.”

Although the Icelandic is the only horse on Iceland, he’s also popular in many countries in Europe and North America. One reason is that in 1904, Icelandic enthusiasts created the first breed society for the Icelandic horse. Today the breed is represented by Icelandic organizations in 19 different nations, organized by the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations.

Another reason for his popularity is his long life. An Icelandic mare in Denmark reached a record age of 56. Another one in Great Britain lived 42 years. The breed’s long years can partially be due to the lack of exposure to diseases from other horses in Iceland. Icelandic law prevents equines from coming into the country, and exported ones can’t return.

Although the Icelandics are not usually ridden until they’re four years old and they don’t reach full maturity until age seven, the people of Iceland love them and are proud of them for several reasons. Because Iceland is so remote, the horses have remained a pure breed, unchanged for over 1,000 years. The horses aren’t easily spooked, probably because they have no natural predators. They’re friendly and calm, although they’re also spunky and confident. The people have also used them for all kinds of tasks, including sheep herding, pleasure riding, racing, and showing. It’s very easy to understand why the people consider their little horse a national treasure.

I’m sure you know a treasure is something extremely valuable. Some people, like archeologists, search the world over for treasures from past civilizations. However, Christians have a treasure that’s far more valuable than any ancient relic like gold or precious jewels.

The Bible tells us when we accept Jesus as our Savior, God gives us power to live for Him. The power comes from the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us.  If we want to please God, the Holy Spirit helps us to do our best. That power is the treasure to help us live for Jesus.

The Bible also tells us about another kind of treasure, the kind that we have in our possession. Whether you’re rich or poor, there are some things you own that you might consider your “treasure.” It might be money. Maybe it’s a collection of model cars. Maybe it’s your computer or smart phone. A personal treasure can be anything of value to that person. According to the Bible, whatever treasure you focus on and spend a lot of time on, that’s where your heart will be, as well.

Have you ever thought that God…or your Bible could be a treasure? If you value them more than anything you own, then your heart’s in the right place.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for the treasure of the Bible and You in my life. I pray that I can always focus my heart on You as my most valuable treasure.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of the name of any possessions you have that you consider “treasures.”  Then decide if you love those things more than God.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  In the 1780s, many of the Icelandic Horses died following a volcanic eruption at Laki in southeast Iceland, mostly by eating fluorine-contaminated grass or by starving.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).

**********

Do you love to read books about kids and horses?

Then check out my Keystone Stables Series.

http://amzn.to/2nPbZ5q