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).

**********

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Haflinger – Always the Same

Horse lovers, do you know what a Haflinger is?

The Haflinger: Always the Same

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

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

(Hebrews 13:8)

Two theories about the origin of this handsome, friendly, and useful breed have surfaced in recent years.

Some horse enthusiasts believe Haflingers came from the Tyrolean Mountains in southern Austria and northern Italy, possibly as far back as medieval times. The breed’s name, in fact, comes from the village of Hafling in northern Italy. (The Italian word for Hafling is “Avelignese” (Ah vale lig nee´ see), the name which some people call the Haflinger.)

Although people sometimes also refer to the Haflinger as a “mountain pony,” he’s a horse. Why was he sometimes called a pony? Perhaps because a type of light mountain pony was first found in the Tyrolean region. That little pony might have been the ancestor of the modern Haflinger.

The second theory is much more complicated, one that horse lovers might not want to take the time to figure out. Some believe the Haflinger descended from a stallion that Louis IV (the Holy Roman Emperor at that time) gave his son Prince Louis of Brandenburg (a city in northeast Germany) as a wedding gift in 1342.

Regardless of the Haflinger’s start, the evidence points to his roots going back hundreds of years. His lineage has been traced to one of seven studs, a beautiful horse named Folie.

As the Haflinger developed over time, during the second half of the 20th Century breeders worked on his temperament, a very important quality of any good horse. Haflinger admirers considered the horse’s attitude so important, they made a quiet, kind nature one of the official breed standards. Thus, no matter how handsome a Haflinger is, if he has a stubborn streak, he’ll flunk an official inspection and be denied his registry.

Some horse organizations recognize two types of Haflingers. One is a shorter, heavier type used as a packhorse and for farm and forestry work for hundreds of years. Even today, the Austrian and German armies still uses Haflingers as packhorses in rough terrain such as the highest Alpines in their countries.

The other type is taller and lighter, used for light driving, under-saddle competition, and pleasure riding. Although they’re very popular as dressage horses for children, they’re still strong and tall enough to carry adults.

There are several national shows for Haflingers worldwide, including those in Germany, Great Britain, and the U. S. One very interesting fact that has nothing to do with riding a horse is that in Germany the Haflinger produces the majority of the horse milk consumed. How would you like to try some milk from such a handsome horse?

So, how handsome is the Haflinger? The Haflinger is an athletic and sturdy medium-sized horse. Up until the 1940s, he stood at 13.3 hands, but today he stands at between 13.2 and 15 hands. Haflinger breeders shy away from breeding horses shorter than 13.2 hands. However, if a Haflinger is taller than 15 hands, he can be registered if he meets other breed requirements. One of the most important requirements is this horse’s eye-catching color.

You’ll never see a black, white, or spotted Haflinger. This equine is always a chestnut color, the shades ranging from a light gold to a rich golden brown or liver. The mane and tail are always white or flaxen (pale grayish yellow.)  So if you’re looking for a Haflinger, focus on his color first because Haflingers’ color is always the same and will never change.

Do you know something or someone else who’s always the same and never changes?

The Bible tells us that we worship the one true God, who has been the same throughout eternity and will never change. That’s good news for us! We can count on God to guide us with the same godly principles He set in motion from the beginning of time when He created the earth and everything in it.  He wrote all those principles we need to know in His Holy Word.

One thing God never changes his mind about is sin. Some people think they don’t sin. They just think they make mistakes. But God’s Word tells us that everyone has sinned. Because God can’t tolerate sin, he will judge it.

However, the best news ever is that God hasn’t changed his mind about how we can go to Heaven. From the beginning of time, He and His Only Son Jesus decided that Jesus would come to earth to save us from our sins. The decision they made thousands of years ago is still true today.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t change? You can always trust all the promises in God’s Word that point to salvation and give great peace in a believer’s heart.

PRAYER: Dear God, I’m so glad I can count on you to tell me how to live through your Holy Word that never changes Thank you for never changing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Read the following verses and decide what they tell us about something God never changes:

Psalm 33:4 

John 3:16

Philippians 4:7 

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  At the end of the 20th Century, the army in India tried to use Haflingers to breed pack horses for mountain work, but the horses couldn’t stand the hot climate, so the program failed.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “For I am the Lord, I change not…” (Malachi 3:6 a).

*****

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Hackney – The Rolls Royce of Carriage Driving

Why is the Hackney horse called the Rolls Royce of Carriage Driving?

The Hackney Horse: The Rolls Royce of Carriage Driving

“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.”

(Revelation 19:16 NKJV)

(Check out photos of the Hackney at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackney_horse)

The Hackney Horse is another superb breed that originated in Great Britain. He’s not to be confused with the Hackney Pony, which can’t be taller than 14.2 hands and has the usual characteristics of a pony, not a horse.

The first records of any Hackney Horse date back to the 14th Century in Norfolk (a county in eastern Great Britain) when the King of England, Edward III, required excellent trotting horses  to be used for riding. Then in 1542, King Henry VIII ordered his wealthy subjects to breed only the very best trotting stallions.

With excellent crossbreeding in the late 17th to the early 18th Centuries, the Hackney developed from the Norfolk Trotter, Yorkshire Roadster, the Arabian, and the Thoroughbred. Wow! What strong bloodlines this high stepper has!  Before that time, heavier, big-boned horses pulled wagons, and they were in no hurry to do it. However, people wanted to get places faster, so they focused on lighter horses such as the Hackney. At first, folks simply admired the beauty of the Hackney but soon discovered his amazing trotting ability and seemingly endless energy. He could cover up to sixty miles in one day!

When people first entered Hackneys in competition, it was “under saddle” (a rider on the horse), not harness. As road conditions improved and the Hackney became the carriage horse, he then competed in harness. Thus, he became known as a riding and driving horse of great excellence.

During the 19th Century as with so many other driving breeds, the invention of modern machinery and the expansion of the railway endangered the carriage horses. Fortunately, Hackney owners revived the breed by selective crossbreeding with Norfolk and Yorkshire Trotters known for their style and speed. The impressive gaits of the Hackney Horse saved him from extinction and began his awesome appearance in England’s show ring.

The Hackney first appeared in the United States in 1878 when a Hackney enthusiast, Alexander Cassatt, brought the first Hackney Pony to the United States. Because Hackneys came in both pony and horse height ranges, they were one of the few breeds that recognized both pony and horse sizes.

As the Hackney Pony developed in the late 19th Century, Hackney Horses were bred to different pony breeds in order to create a very specific type of show pony. In 1891 with the two breeds becoming increasingly distinct in their characteristics, Cassatt and other Hackney enthusiasts founded the American Hackney Horse Society now based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Over the last few decades, the Hackney’s breeding has further produced a horse ideal for carriage driving. The Hackney Horse ranges in height from 14 to 15.3 hands. Their common colors are black, brown, bay and chestnut, and there are even some spotted ones. He has an elegant presence with a small head, well-shaped ears, and a natural high-set tail. But what is the Hackney most well-known for? Of course, his natural high-stepping gait! Although he’s best known for stealing the show in harness, he can also give a smooth and exciting ride. A pleasant surprise is his outstanding ability in show jumping and dressage competition.

To bring the excellence of the Hackney to the world’s horse enthusiasts, in 2003 the American Hackney Horse Society started the Open Competition Awards Program to recognize blue-ribbon Hackneys that were competing against other breeds.

Today proud owners compete in Carriage Driving and Coaching with their Hackney Horses, many driving away with top honors. Horse lovers often have to admit there’s nothing more elegant than a Hackney driving a fancy antique carriage. Because of the Hackney’s royal appearance, it’s easy to understand that he’s called the Rolls Royce of carriage driving.

Do you know what it means to label something a “Rolls Royce”?

The term “Rolls Royce” means the very best of something. A Rolls Royce car is one of the most expensive, special-made cars in the world. As the Hackney is labeled the Rolls Royce of carriage driving, our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, can be labeled the “Rolls Royce of all gods.” He’s not only the best God. He’s the only true God.

Sadly, many people around the world worship gods that aren’t even alive. They worship statues that can’t hear or speak. Some cultures worship animals, believing their ancestors’ souls live in the animals they worship. But saddest of all are the millions of people who believe they can go to heaven if they please their gods by being good or by doing kind deeds. But our one true God doesn’t expect that from us. All our God asks is that we trust in His Son Jesus to be our Savior, the only one who can forgive all our sins.

If you’ve trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then you’re believing in the Rolls Royce of gods, and you always can be sure of heaven when you die.

PRAYER: Dear God, I thank Jesus my Savior for being the One True God, whom I can trust to go to heaven. I realize there are no other gods like Him anywhere.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

What do you think people might be doing to try to earn their way to heaven? Thank God that you know it’s your faith in Christ that opens the way to eternal life.

Take your ride: (Do you know?) In the 1820s, a Hackney called “Norfolk Cob” was recorded as trotting two miles in just five minutes and four seconds.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

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If you like to read stories about kids and horses, then my Keystone Stables books are the ones for you!

Today’s Horse Facts: The Friesian – Majestic!

When a black Friesian prances by in a parade, you can’t help but admire how “majestic” he is. But what is a Friesian?

The Friesian: Majestic!

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friesian_horse)

“His glory is great in Your salvation; honor and majesty You have placed upon him.”

(Psalm 21:5 NKJV)

Have you’ve noticed how many horses are named after places where they were first found? Friesians, sometimes called “Belgian Blacks,” fit into this category. Considered one of the oldest breeds in Europe, the Friesian originated in Friesland, a province in northwest Netherlands. Although he has the strong build of a draft horse and looks like he’d only be used for pulling a plow, he’s graceful and nimble. When he prances by in a parade, people can’t help but admire how majestic he is.

As majestic as the Friesian appears to be now, it’s believed that during the Middle Ages (the 5th to the 15th Centuries), his ancestors were used as war horses. The Friesians’ husky size and strength enabled them to carry knights in heavy armor. During the 16th and 17th Centuries heavy war horses were no longer needed, so Andalusians were crossbred with Friesians to produce a lighter horse for driving carriages.

Over the next 300 years, interest in the breed dropped, and Friesians nearly became extinct. Sadly, at the turn of the 20th Century, there were only three purebred stallions left. The breed struggled to survive, and then, contrary to so many other horses that declined during World War II, the Friesians made a strong comeback. Dutch farmers used them for transportation and farming due to fuel shortages.

Despite the Friesian’s shaky roots, he’s growing in numbers and popularity and performs in all kinds of harness and under saddle competition. Most recently, he’s also making a strong showing in dressage events.

The most unusual fact about the Friesians is they must be black to be registered. However, their colors can also be black/bay, dark brown, and chestnut is sometimes allowed for mares and geldings. If there’s any white at all on a Friesian, it can only be a small star on his forehead.

The Friesian stands at 14.2 to 17 hands. He has a beautiful arched neck and a muscular body with strong, sloping hindquarters. He has a long, thick mane and tail, which are often wavy, and his feet are feathered. He’s known for a brisk, high-stepping trot. Although he’s very energetic, he’s also gentle and trains well.

Friesians come with two different body types—baroque (bah·roke), which has the more solid build of the first Friesians, and the finer-boned sport horse. Although both types are common, the sport horse has become more popular in the show ring.

Because of their gorgeous black coat, flowing mane and tail, arched neck, and high step, Friesians appear in many movies and TV shows, especially in fantasies. They remain calm and perform beautifully when being filmed, and they are stunning in their appearance. A Friesian tends to have great presence and to carry himself with royal elegance. Whether he’s driving a fancy carriage or prancing under saddle, he can only be defined as majestic.

Anyone or anything that is “majestic” has a quality of dignity, beauty, and grandeur. The word “majesty” refers to someone who has great power or a high position. Have you ever heard someone call a king or queen “your majesty”?

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Supreme Authority of the entire universe and heavens, and we should worship Him as the most powerful ruler of all. Someday King Jesus is coming back to earth on a white horse, and every Christian will have the privilege of bowing in person before Him and addressing Him as “Your Majesty.” I can’t wait for that time to come.

How about you? Is the Majestic God of the Universe the King of your life?

PRAYER: Dear God, I want You to be the ruler of my life. I pray I’ll be a loyal servant, willing to do whatever You ask of me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Read Revelation 19:11-16 and find four titles of royalty Jesus Christ is called in those verses:

Take your ride: (Do you know?)   Some Friesian events feature the horse driving a sjee, a cart with only two, but very large, wheels.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:25).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Falabella – A Carbon Copy

Have you ever seen a horse about the size of a Great Dane? The Falabella is one of the smallest horse breeds in the world.

The Falabella: A Carbon Copy

FalabellaFestivo.jpg

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falabella )

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us ….”

(Ephesians 5: 1-2a NIRV)

Have you ever seen a horse about the size of a Great Dane? The Falabella is one of the smallest breeds in the world, averaging seven or eight hands. (Remember a hand is about four inches). The average Falabella is shorter than a yardstick. Because of his size, many people think he’s a pony, but he’s a miniature horse. A carbon copy of the bigger guys!

The Falabella’s roots take him back to Andalusians and Iberian horses in Argentina, South America. In 1868, Patrick Newtall started a breeding program including local Criollo horses known for their stamina. When Newtall died, his son-in-law, Juan Falabella, added the bloodlines of Welsh Ponies, Shetland Ponies, and small Thoroughbreds. Thus, a consistently small horse named the “Falabella” emerged over the next century.

In 1940, Julio C. Falabella, a descendent of Juan, founded the Falabella Horse Breeders Association to preserve the breed. At first, he set the horse’s height standard to no more than ten hands, but later other breeders set today’s standard of about seven to eight hands.

By the early 1950s, horse lovers all over the world became interested in the fascinating little horse. The Falabella gained popularity with not only horse breeders but with royalty and celebrities, as well. These first miniatures arrived in the United States in 1962 when a winery in Etiwanda, California, purchased 12 stallions to drive small stagecoaches in parades. Most of the Falabella miniatures in the U.S. today came from those 12 horses.

Although the Falabellas are the size of ponies, the similarity ends there. Their body shape, sleek coat, and slim frame are very much like Thoroughbreds or Arabs. Falabellas have sturdy bones and a thick mane and tail. Their colors can be black, brown, bay, pinto, and palomino. Strangely, though, there are no Appaloosa-colored Falabellas.

If you think a full-grown Falabella is tiny, a foal is even smaller. If you measure something 24 inches high, you’ll see how little the Falabellas are when they’re born. As small as they are, it takes three years for them to mature.

You might wonder what anyone would do with horses so small. Because Falabellas have a calm, sweet temperament and train easily, they can be ridden by very young children.  But the Falabellas have many other jobs, and they do them well!  They drive carts, and some folks enter the little horses in shows.  In recent years, Falabellas have worked jobs that have won the hearts of young and old alike. One of the horse’s most valuable uses is being guide animals for special needs folks. Falabellas can also be trained as service animals, visiting children in hospitals or the elderly in senior centers.

No matter where the Falabellas live, even in extreme hot or cold, they thrive as much as their taller counterparts. What the big guys can do, the little horses can do, and just as well. You might say these miniatures are carbon copies of the bigger breeds.

A “carbon copy” is something or someone similar or almost identical to another. Has anyone ever said you’re a carbon copy of your mother or father? That means you look just like one of them.

The Bible tells us we should strive to be carbon copies or imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ too. That means as we Christians grow in our faith and love for God, we’ll become more like Jesus in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Have you ever thought you might be considered a carbon copy of Jesus? As you do your best to follow God and please Him, wouldn’t it be great if those around you would think you were a carbon copy of Jesus? If you strive to love others as Jesus loves us, then it might just be the case.

PRAYER: Dear God, I would love to be a carbon copy of my Savior Jesus Christ. Help me to live every day to please Him.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of two things Jesus did when He was on earth that showed how much He loved others. Decide how you can show that same love to others.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Since 1999, the Guide Horse Foundation has worked to provide miniature horses to the blind in rural areas.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing ….” (John 14:12a NIRV)

 

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Curly – The Oddball of the Horse World

Do you know that a Curly Horse has a coat of hair tight as a poodle?

The Curly Horse: The Odd Ball of the Horse World

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curly_Horse)

“But you are a chosen generation … a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

(1 Peter 2:9)

Curlies come in all sizes and colors, but what’s really strange about these horses is they all carry a gene for a uniquely curly coat of hair. Just as strange is how the breed originated.

In the early 20th Century, rancher John Damele and his sons near Eureka, Nevada, spotted a herd of Mustangs with a few strange-looking horses. While Mustangs were a common sight, the curly-coated horses were unusual. Years later, the Dameles managed to catch one. They trained it and rode it, then sold it, thus starting their Curly association. In 1932, a harsh winter hit, and when spring brought warmer weather, the only horses found were the Curlies. The Dameles noted how hardy those few horses were, so they decided to include more of them in their herd.

After another harsh winter in 1952, the Dameles became serious about breeding the Curlies. They found the Mustangs again and rounded up a two-year-old chestnut stallion. Because the Dameles didn’t care to keep the Curly breed pure and just wanted to improve their own horses, they crossbred their herd with one Morgan and one Arabian stallion. Those two studs and the Curly created beautiful foals with Curly blood. Thus, we have hundreds of cross-bred Curlies today. They can be found in gaited, sport, draft, pony, and even in a few miniature horses.

How the Curlies ever came to America in the first place remains a big question. Some historians surmise the horses were brought by Spanish Conquistadors, Russians, or Vikings.  Early American Sioux natives regarded Curlies as sacred mounts for their chiefs and medicine men. Native American artwork also shows warriors riding this odd breed in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

If you want a horse for just a “cute pet,” the Curly might be for you. You might say he looks like an overgrown poodle! At birth he has tight curls everywhere, even in his ears. As he matures, his coat settles down a little. His winter coat is still really tight, but in the summer his coat is wavy.  However, some purebred Curlies have no curls at all and are called “smooth coats.” And there’s great news for you who are allergic to animal hair. You could actually own a Curly because the breed is hypo-allergenic. Curlies’ hair doesn’t trigger allergies!

As odd as the Curlies are, it seems they all have positive traits, perfect for children. Curlies have friendly manners and are easy to train despite their rugged determination. Most of them work hard, including participating in gymkhana (horse and rider events with speed/pattern racing and timed games).

Curlies come in nearly all colors and coat patterns, and the height varies according to type. Their colors are mostly chestnut but can be bay, black, or gray with appaloosa or pinto markings. Because of their crossbreeding with gaited horses, some Curlies have a running walk. Those saddle types range from 14.1 to 15.1 hands. Most other Curlies stand between 14 and 16 hands, but they can range from miniature horses to draft horses.

You’re probably wondering how you groom a Curly. Remember, his curls can be as tight as a poodle’s. Caring for the coat requires simple brushing. However, the mane is often not combed because the hair tends to lose its curl. Because the manes tangle easily, they’re often trimmed real short.

By now, you probably agree the Curly Horse is an odd but beautiful horse.  Another word for odd is the word “peculiar.”

Many people consider Christians odd or peculiar. Are you a peculiar Christian?

The Bible tells us that Christians are peculiar in that we are special members of God’s family. When we give our lives to Jesus, we have different ways of looking at things. We have different interests than those who aren’t Christians.

Does everyone you know love to go to church and read the Bible, two activities Christians should want to do? Think about some friends who might not be Christians. What are they interested in? Because you choose not to do some of those things, those friends might actually call you “odd.”

If others think you’re odd, that’s no reason to be sad. God calls you a good kind of peculiar because you do love Him and want to please Him. For that, you can be very thankful.

PRAYER: Dear God, sometimes it’s hard to be so different from some my friends. I want to be a strong Christian, even if others think I’m an oddball. Please help me to be like the Curly and not be ashamed of who I am and who You are.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Name some things you should do as a Christian that some of your friends might think is “odd.” Ask God to help you be a good testimony.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Some Curly owners collect their horses’ shed hair from the manes and tails and donate it to the International Curly Horse Organization Fiber Guild. The guild uses the hair for making clothing. The proceeds go to ICHO Curly research efforts.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Clydesdale – One Powerful Equine!

Do you think you could saddle a Clydesdale horse and ride him? Clydesdales are some of the biggest horses in the world.

The Clydesdale: One Powerful Equine!

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clydesdale_horse)

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”

(Ephesians 6:10)

Do you think you could ever saddle a Clydesdale and ride him? Let’s find out!

The Clydesdale is a huge, coldblooded draft horse that has his roots as a farm animal from the Clyde Valley in Scotland, a country in Europe. He’s considered a member of an exclusive equine club, “The Big Four of the Draft World,” with Belgians, Percherons, and Shires. It might be well to note that the Clydesdale is as beautiful as he is big.

Way back in the 1700s, the breed developed from Flemish (northern Belgium) stallions that had been imported to Scotland and crossbred with local mares. The name “Clydesdale” was first used in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions resulted in Clydesdale horses becoming popular throughout Scotland and northern England. In 1877, Clydesdale enthusiasts started the first breed registry, which raised great interest in the horse.

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, thousands of Clydesdales found their way from Scotland to the rest of the horse world, including Australia and New Zealand, where they were given the name “the breed that built Australia.” However, during World War I, as with most horse breeds, Clydesdales began to decline due to automobiles and the invention of farm machinery. Unfortunately, the decline continued until 1970, when the Rare Breeds Survival Trust then declared the Clydesdale in danger of extinction. Clydesdale enthusiasts began to work to preserve the breed, and because of their efforts this majestic equine started to make a comeback.

So how big is big? Clydesdales stand from 16 to 18 hands and weigh 1,800 to 2,000 pounds.  Now that’s big. Some full-grown males have measured 18 hands and weigh up to 2,200 pounds. That’s almost as heavy as a small car! Despite the horses’ size, would you believe some people actually like to ride them? You’d definitely need a ladder to get on, like climbing on the top of bunkbeds. And I imagine it would be like trying to ride a sofa!

Concerning the Clydesdales’ colors, they’re considered the dark horses of the Big Four. They’re mostly bay, brown, roan, or black with white markings, mostly on the face and sometimes with large white blotches on his underbelly. They also have white feathers preferably on all four feet. Feathers? If you’re a horse lover, then you probably already know that horses don’t have “feathers” like birds do. You’d also know when a horse has feathers, he has long, flowing hair covering his feet.

The Clydesdale is quite the unique horse. Despite his bulky size and bulging muscles, he has a gorgeous arching neck and a flashy, high-step.  He has lots of energy, and even when he pulls an over-sized wagon or a heavy load, his power and beauty leave the admirer in awe. Besides his handsome frame, his mane will probably be braided and his tail either bobbed or braided, which only adds to his stunning appearance.

Some of the most famous members of the breed are the teams that make up the eight-horse hitches of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Also, Clydesdales and Shires are used by the British Household Cavalry as drum horses, leading parades during state occasions. Drum horses, of course, carry drums, and have the special privilege of guarding the Sovereign and the Royal Household. To qualify for that job,  a drum horse must stand at least 17 hands because he’ll carry the Musical Ride Officer and two silver drums, each weighing about 125 pounds.  Only a powerful horse like the Clydesdale could handle all that weight and still prance with an arched neck.

Just as the Clydesdale uses his power to pull heavy loads and serve people, do you know you can ask God for His power to help you serve others too?

Perhaps you have situations in your life that make you feel weak and unable to know what to do. We all have problems in our lives that sometimes can stump us and cause us to want to “run away” from the trouble. But God is always with us, ready to help.

As a Christian, remember that your power to do right and to accomplish anything comes from God. Jesus is your best friend. All you need to do is ask Him, and you’ll receive the power and strength to get the job done or solve the problem.

PRAYER: Dear God, sometimes I feel very weak in my faith. I know I can be stronger with your power. Help me to always trust in you with important decisions. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some things you think God will help you do to become a stronger Christian.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  In past days, the Clydesdales’ feet were so big they couldn’t fit in the farmers’ plowed furrows. Thus, Clydesdales often worked in towns pulling wagons rather than pulling plows on farms.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “He gives power to the weak,
and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

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