Today’s Horse Facts: The North Swedish Horse – Not Enough Good Can Be Said About Him

The North Swedish Horse is a small, heavy horse originating from ____?___ You guessed it: Sweden. Equine enthusiasts consider him a coldblooded draft horse, but he can also be a harness racer if his build is lighter.

The North Swedish Horse: Not Enough Good Can Be Said About Him

To see a picture of this horse go to  

“To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God;

there is none other besides Him.”

(Deuteronomy 4:35 NKJV)

The North Swedish Horse is a small, heavy horse originating from ____?___ You guessed it: Sweden. Equine enthusiasts consider him a coldblooded draft horse, but he can also be a harness racer if his build is lighter. He also has an impressive energetic long trot, which makes him popular for that kind of racing. (In harness racing the horses race at a specific gait. They must trot or “pace” but can’t canter— run fast. One driver reins the two-wheeled cart called a sulky.)

The North Swedish Horse’s roots go back to his neighbor, the Norwegian Dølahest. (The Dølahest is a strong, reliable draft horse from Norway.) North Swedish Horses had been crossbred with other breeds until the 19th Century when the North Swedish Horse Breed Society created its standards for a more distinct body shape for the breed.  The society returned to the horse’s roots, using Dølahest stallions from Norway, and in the early 20th Century, the society also introduced tough performance tests for all breeding studs.

Today, the line of the North Swedish Horse is strictly controlled with breeding stallions that are all thoroughly tested. To qualify, a stud must have a pleasant character, must be strong enough to pull heavy loads, and must be able to breed. The horse’s legs and hooves are even examined by X-ray to test for strong legs.

Because the North Swedish Horse is so cooperative, he’s very easy to train. Although his build is compact and hardy yet light for a draft horse, his strength and stamina outweigh his “dumpy” look. He’s tough and spunky, but he’s also known to be cooperative and willing to work, so the Swedes use him for farming, forestry work, and recreational sports like pulling and hauling. Being born and raised in the harsh climate of Sweden, he’s known for good health and a long life.

With all the positive qualities of the North Swedish Horse, it seems as though we almost have a near-perfect equine that stands at 15.1 to 15.3 hands. The most common colors are solids: blackish brown, smoky, and yellowish black, but any solid color can be found. His dumpy body shape might remind you of an overweight pony with a big head, long ears, and a short, thick neck. His mane and tail wave thick and abundant in the wind. Yet, despite his plump build, he requires little feed and is a very active horse. A farmer might use his North Swedish Horse during the week for plowing but on Saturday enter him in an endurance race at the local fair. Besides this equine’s reputation for being a strong draft horse and racer, his easy-going manner makes him a favorite of children. Not enough good can be said about this horse loved by children and adults alike.

Have you ever heard the term “not enough good can be said about someone”? Has anyone ever said that about you?

Do you know we can say that about the wonderful God we love and worship? We can’t say enough good about God because He is perfect, and He’s the only God. Can you imagine never making a mistake or never doing the wrong thing? He made the vast universe, and He made us. Now Jesus is preparing a special place called Heaven for all those who believe in Him as their Savior. That’s how special our God is, and He’s worthy of our praise and adoration. Thank Him today for being the One and Only Perfect God who never makes a mistake.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being the one, true, perfect God, who loves me so much. Thank you, Jesus, for making a way for me to go to Heaven some day and be with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some things you notice in your life or in the Bible that show that our God is perfect and magnificent:


Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The North Swedish Horse is one of very few coldblooded breeds used in harness racing.


Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “As for God, His way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31 NKJV).


Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her champion show horse, Champ,

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

Today’s Horse Facts: The New Forest Pony – An Unusual Mark

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today.

The New Forest Pony: An Unusual Mark

(Go to to see a picture of this equine)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today. For several thousand years, they’ve been known as one of the most recognized mountain and native equines in the British Isles. As with many pony breeds, New Forest Ponies started their careers as “pit ponies” in mines. Fortunately because of their gentle nature, intelligence, and versatility, they soon became a favorite pet outside the mines. Today the New Forest Pony and similar crossbreeds are still the folks of that region’s favorite choice for getting a hard job done.

Although their height is only about 12 to 14.2 hands, they’re strong, surefooted, hard workers and great for trail riding. Many of these equines are so strong, adults as well as children can ride the taller ones. The ponies also can be driven in harness competition and sometimes even win against larger horses. New Forest ponies also are used today for dressage, gymkhanas, show jumping, cross-country, dressage, and eventing (considered the most demanding of races for both horse and rider. It originated with well-trained cavalry horses, which had to cover rough terrain and obstacles while running at full speed.)

New Forest Ponies are usually bay, chestnut, or gray. They can’t be piebald, skewbald, nor blue-eyed cream, and only geldings and mares can be registered if they are palomino or very light chestnut. They may have white markings on their head and lower legs, but they can’t have white behind the head, above the hock on either hind leg, or above the knee in either one of the front legs.

What’s so interesting about these ponies is they graze freely on the New Forest territory and are owned collectively by New Forest commoners. Those people, under the direction of five agisters (managers or caretakers), have specific rights to a certain section of the Hampshire pastures. However, the people must pay a fee to turn out their ponies to graze. In this “semi-feral” condition, thousands of New Forest Pony mares and a few geldings run loose most of the year. The stallions must be registered to keep the line pure and are turned out only for a limited period in the spring and summer during breeding season.

The success of this program is due to the agisters, who take responsibility for the ponies. Every year, they have a round-up and check each pony’s health. Then they worm and “tail-mark” each one. Tail-marking is the cutting of the pony’s tail in a specific pattern unique to each agister. The tails are cut either in three jagged steps to the left or the right, in cuts on both sides half way up the tail, or with a cut half way up the tail to the right. By looking at any pony’s tail, you can immediately identify the agister who cared for that equine and his region of New Forest. If you’d see any of these ponies, you might chuckle at the way the tails are cut.

The New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society has been publishing the stud book since 1960. New Forest ponies have been exported all over the world, including to Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Many other countries have their own New Forest Breed societies and stud books. As of 2011, there were 4,604 ponies grazing on the New Forest. In 2014, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) conservation group listed the New Forest pony as a minority breed because less than 3,000 breeding females were documented.

Regardless of the numbers of New Forest Ponies in the world today, they can be immediately identified by their tail markings. Those unique tails tell everyone the agister who marked them and from what part of New Forest they came. That mark or strange way of identification lets everyone know these proud ponies are from Hampshire, southern England.

Speaking of marks or identifications, can others tell you are a Christian by the “marks of the Lord Jesus” on your life?

If you’re a Christian, you should have the marks that identify a Christian. Those marks are called the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness are some of those marks. The Holy Spirit helps you develop those excellent character traits when you’re willing to follow His commands.

As you grow in your Christian faith, those around you will notice the “new you,” and will identify you as a young person with the marks of a true Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me be willing to obey so that I can have the fruits of the Holy Spirit and have the marks of a Christian on my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of three fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and how you can display those “marks” to those around you. (Example: Love – I can write my mother or teacher a note, thanking them for loving and helping me):

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  If a pony fits all the qualifications of a New Forest, but he has blue eyes, he can’t be registered.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV).






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:

“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).





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

“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