Today’s Horse Facts: The Abtenauer

Do you know what an Abtenauer is? Check out my blog post today.

Abtenauer: Small But Mighty

If you’re a horse lover and live in the country of Austria, then you probably know what an Abtenauer horse is. An Abtenauer is a small stocky horse many folks think is just a pony. That’s because the breed’s average height is only 14 to 15 hands. (A “hand” measures about four inches.) This cute lineage breed comes from a special place in Austria, an isolated valley called the Abtenauer, tucked away in the beautiful Alps Mountains not far from Salzburg.
Abtenauers, known as “draft horses,” are extremely strong for their size, but they have a sweet temperament and enjoy working with humans. Therefore, their labor mostly involves pulling wagons like buckboards loaded with people or harvested crops. Some Abtenauers also work in the forest, pulling huge tree trunks for loggers.
An interesting fact is the foals are born with curly hair and are black, blue roan, brown, or chestnut. But when the foals shed their first coat, the curls disappear, and they have straight hair from then on.
Because this little breed is confined to such a small part of the world, their number has become low, maybe as few as a hundred or so. Yet, in the Abtenauer Valley, they are quite popular and are celebrated for their stamina.
How can such a small horse have such strength to pull a wagon full of people or heavy bags of grain? If you ask me, that takes a lot of determination!
God has given the Abtenauer an elegant build with a well-shaped head and strong legs full of muscle, which allow this little horse to power up and trot with an easy flow. He truly is mighty, not only for his conformation but for his “I can do this” attitude!
Do you ever feel badly because you’re body is small or you feel “small” with the way you struggle with your studies? Maybe you’re the tiniest one in your family or in your circle of friends. Does that mean you can’t do the same things other kids do or get good grades? Do you ever say, “I can’t do that. I’m too little?” Do you ever think it?
God tells us in His Bible the size of a person doesn’t matter to Him. In fact, God has made you the way you are. Of course, if you’re short, you’re not going to be able to win at basketball or a high jump event, but God has other plans for you. Whether you’re short or thin, God loves you, and you can be mighty in whatever tasks He asks you to do.
Are you too short to help your mother dust the furniture or dry the dishes? Are you too short to get an A in that math test? Are you too short to tell someone “I love you?” I think the answer should be “I can do this!”
In Luke chapter 19, the Bible tells us of a man named Zacchaeus, who wanted to meet Jesus. Zacchaeus was so short, he couldn’t see over the crowd. But he didn’t whimper like a lost puppy and go home. Instead, he said, “I can do this!” He climbed the nearest tree, met Jesus, and became a mighty witness for God. Zacchaeus didn’t use his puny height as an excuse not to serve God.
How about you? Whether you’re small in stature or maybe you feel small inside, you can be mighty for God. Take a step of faith and see if God gives you strength you never knew you had to do the job He’s asked you to do. There’s no better time than right now to make up your mind to be a mighty warrior for God. Ask Him to help you to always have an “I can do it” attitude, and you’ll be amazed at all you’ll achieve for the Lord Jesus Christ.
You might be small, but you can still be mighty!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

PRAYER: Dear God, Sometimes I feel so small and weak. I pray you will help me have an “I can do this” attitude for anything you ask me to do. I am willing. Please make me mighty with your power. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)
To learn more about our wonderful God, try to read your Bible every day. You could ask for a children’s Bible to help you understand it better.
Start reading in the book of John in the New Testament. Write a verse from the book of John that you really like.

Take your ride: (Do you know?) When the Abtenauers aren’t working, they’re grazing, sometimes with cows, in lush pastures embedded in the beautiful Abtenauer Valley.

Dismount and cool down your horse: (Do you know?) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).


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Foster kid Skye Nicholson hates everyone until she meets a blue ribbon show horse, Champ.


Today’s Horse Facts: Lady, My Third Horse

My second horse, Lady, wasn’t a lady at all. Find out why.

Today’s Horse Facts

Lady: My Second or Third Horse?????

Lady, My Second Horse

You probably won’t understand what I’m about to say if you are young, but when you get “older,” your memory can start to fail you. Duh! Everyone knows that. Anyway, the horse that I thought was my third horse turned out to be my second horse.

Like a dummy, I never marked the dates or the horses’ names on the back of the zillions of pictures I took of all my horses. So I’ve been plowing through all my albums, trying to sort out which horse was who and when I owned each. But I know that the horse in this picture is Lady, who was my second horse.

How do I know? Well, the picture shows a friend riding Lady, a bay grade mare.

Lady with Moon Doggie in 1971

Next to them is my husband Richard riding Moon Doggie, my first horse. So, that proved to me that Lady was my second horse. And Ginger, whom I thought was my second horse, was really my third horse. Now, are you totally confused? And, by the way, does it really matter?
Now, here’s a little bit of info about Lady, who by the way wasn’t a lady in any shape or form. She was an older horse, and you can tell by looking at her ribs sticking out in the one photo (even though I fed her tons of food). By buying an older horse, I thought I was getting a gentle down-to-earth easy rider. Well, Lady was that—kind of. As long as we rode her AWAY from the barn, she was a piece of cake.

However, as soon as we turned her around to head for the barn, look out! We needed a tight rein on her, and we never could run her going home. That little gem of info we found out the hard way.

One Saturday, hubby and I went for a short ride, maybe for an hour. I rode Moon Doggie, and hubby was on Lady. On the way home, we started to lope across a farmer’s field. We were probably a quarter of a mile from our barn.

All of a sudden, Lady took off full speed ahead and hubby couldn’t stop her. All I could see was a brown blur and him yelling, “Whoa, whoa” and yanking on the reins as hard as he could.

Do you know what we found out?

Lady had a hard mouth. You don’t want a horse with a hard mouth.

What’s a hard mouth? All the nerves in her mouth had been so damaged from bits over the years, her mouth had become totally numb to any pressure or pain. When she decided to run, she was unstoppable. What she should have had on her was a hackamore. Of course, I was still learning about horses, so I didn’t know that.

Unfortunately, Lady was so old, I think I finally sold her to the meat market, sad to say. But I’m not really sure of that. All I remember is that she was very old, and she was no fun to ride back to the barn. But, I will hand this to her. She taught me an awful lot about older, hard-mouthed horses. The next time I went horse buying, I made sure the horse behaved going away and back to the barn.

Happy riding!


P.S. Email me with stories and pictures of your horses.

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Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her show horse, Champ, and all their exciting adventures.



Today’s Horse Facts: My Second Horse

The second horse I owned, Ginger, was a beauty, but she had a big problem.

My Second Horse: Ginger

(Early 1970s)

Ginger, Pretty Pinto Walker

Ginger, Pretty Pinto Walker

After I sold Moon Doggie, my first horse ever and still dear to my heart, I bought a greenbroke part Tennessee Walker pinto, Ginger, from a friend whose mare had foaled this pretty little thing.

Ginger was about three years old when I bought her. Now, I want you to know that I was “greenbroke” too. I didn’t know much about horses, especially how to train them. I had only had Moon Doggie, a gentle little Welsh Pony, for about a year when I decided to move on to a bigger, flashier horse.

Well, Ginger certainly was that. She was bigger, and she was flashier. However, if ever a horse could be labeled ADHD, that was Ginger. As pretty as she was, that’s how flighty she was.

Everything scared this poor horse. When I rode her, I had to be constantly on guard because her nerves were ever psyched. Her ears twitched like radar antennae and her eyes searched out every little sound from either side as we went down the trail.

Did Ginger have that nice smooth Tennessee Walker gait? She certainly did, but she was so skiddish, I rarely could kick her up into second or third gear. Even a leaf blowing across her path would spook her, and she’d decide to take a 90-degree turn without letting me know. Whoa, babe! I had to hang on for dear life!

Marsha's Little Red Barn
Marsha’s Little Red Barn

My hubby and a friend had finished building our little two-stall barn to house my equines, so I started looking for a second horse. I kept Ginger for a year or two, but she never improved as far as her spookiness was concerned. I take the blame entirely for that because, as I said, I knew little about training horses, so I sold her to someone who planned to work with her and turn her into a fine, flashy mount.

Nevertheless, I still have fond memories of sweet, scared Ginger, a picture to feast your eyes on but not a horse to rest your butt on.

Happy riding!


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Dallis Parker has dreamed about owning a wild Mustang stallion almost her whole life,

but most folks say he doesn’t even exist. But then in a strange encounter, she

meets Snow face to face, and both their lives are changed.

Today’s Horse Facts: The Lipizzaner

The Lipizzaner is known for its “ballet” dressage movements.

Today’s Horse Facts: The Lipizzaner

Gorgeous Lipizzaner in Dressage

I doubt whether any of us have ever touched a Lipizzan horse, let alone ride one. This breed is most known as an expensive, world renowned show horse that is trained in Austria to perform “ballets.”

When I was a child, my mother bought me probably my most favorite horse book of all times, Marguerite Henry’s Album of Horses, first published in 1951. On page 66 through to page 69, Ms. Henry describes the Lipizzan horse. An absolutely gorgeous painting on page 67 by Wesley Dennis shows a Lipizzan performing the capriole, one of the “ballet movements” these beautiful animals are trained to do. As I read about the Lipizzans again and again, I would picture myself sitting in the saddle, dreaming of riding one of these fantastic white steeds. As a child then and as an adult now, I’m still dreaming and always will, for the riders of the Spanish Riding School Lipizzans are a chosen lot and are an exclusive group of which us average folk will never be included.

So let’s have our T/F quiz and see exactly how much you know about the world famous Lipizzaners. Here we go:

1. The Lipizzaner has its roots in Carthage from 2000 years back.

2. The “Lipizzaner” breed actually got its name in the late 1500s when Maximilian II, emperor of Austria, crossed Arabians and Spanish mares with Andalusian blood.

3. The word “Lipizzan” comes from the town of Lipizza near the Adriatic Sea, where the first Lipizzans were foaled.

4. All Lipizzans must be “white.”

5. Grey Lipizzan foals are always born dark and turn lighter when they’re older.

6. Lipizzans are usually between 14.2 hands and 16.1 hands.

7. You have to go to Austria to buy a Lipizzan.

8. The world famous Spanish Riding School horses that perform all over the world are really trained in Austria.

9. Only six-year-old Lipizzan stallions are trained at the Spanish Riding School.

10. One of the beautiful ballet movements is called the “piaffe,” when the Lipizzan prances in place.

Let me know if you got at least eight of these questions correct. If so, then you are a Lipizzan expert! Here are the answers:

1. T

2. T

3. T

4. F  This is false for two reasons. Lipizzans come in different colors of brown and black, and the “white” ones aren’t really considered “white.” They are grey.

5. T

6. T

7. F  There are Lipizzan breeders all over the world; however, there are only about 3000 registered Lipizzans.

8. T

9. F  Lipizzan stallions can start their training at the Spanish Riding School when they are four years old.

10. T

Lipizzaner Performing the Levade

So how much do you know about the dazzling white Lipizzaners? If you want to learn more, look up these other websites to check on additional facts about the beautiful breed:

Next time, we’ll take a ride to visit some Clydesdales.

Happy riding!


Today’s Surprise Horse Facts: A Must See Video

Horse whisperer, Stacey Westfall, rides a mount with “no strings attached.”

One of the Most Beautful Rides I’ve Ever Seen

Hi, fellow horse facts lovers, yes, this post is much too early. The next one isn’t due until Thursday, September 22nd. However, every horse facts lover on the planet needs to see this amazing video of a  horse whisperer, Stacey Westfall, riding her gorgeous mount. I will admit that every time I watch this, I just sit and cry because it’s so beautiful.

 When you go to this site, click on the video clip on the right side under “Gallery” and “Thoreau’s Quote.”  You will be infatuated with this gorgeous demonstration of love between a girl and a horse. An amazing fact is that it isn’t her horse, but I think she should own it. This team is one!

Let me know what you think.


Today’s Horse Facts: Horse Whispering

Horse Whispering

Book 7. Keystone Stables

If you are constantly reading about horses and know a lot of horse facts about them, you probably realize that my seventh book, WHISPERING HOPE, is actually based on the fact that many horse behaviorists today train horses much differently than the majority of horsemen did just several decades ago.

We’ve all read Wild West stories or seen movies in which the cowpoke broke a wild horse by climbing onto his back and hanging on while the poor horse bucked until he was so exhausted, he could hardly stand. What that type of training did was break the horse’s spirit, and the horse learned to obey out of fear. Many bronco busters from the past also used whips, ropes, sharp spurs, and painful bits to make the horses respond, which they did only to avoid the pain.

Thankfully, the way many horses become reliable mounts has changed dramatically. Today, many horses are trained, not broken. The trainer communicates with the horse using herd language. Thus, the horse bonds with his trainer quickly, looks to that person as his herd leader, and is ready to obey his every command.

Thanks to Monty Roberts, the Horse Whisperer, and professional horse trainers like him, most raw or green horses (those that are just learning to respond to tack and a rider) are no longer “broken.”

Horses are now trained to accept the tack and rider in a short time with proven methods of horse whispering. Usually working in a round pen, the trainer begins by making large movements and noise as a predator would, encouraging the horse to run away. The trainer then gives the horse the choice to flee or bond. Through body language, the trainer asks the horse, “Will you choose me to be your herd leader and follow me?”

Usually, the horse responds with predictable herd behavior by twitching an ear toward his trainer, then by lowering his head and licking to display an element of trust. The trainer mocks the horse’s passive body language, turns his back on the horse, and, without eye contact, invites him to come closer. The bonding occurs when the horse chooses to be with the human and walks toward the trainer, thus accepting his leadership and protection.

Horse whispering has become one of the most acceptable, reliable, and humane ways to train horses. Today we have multitudes of rider and horse teams that have bonded in such a special way, both the rider and the horse enjoy each other’s company more than ever could have been imagined.

So, when you’re talking to your friends about horses, always remember to say the horses have been trained, not broken. The word “broken” is part of the horses past that should remain there forever.

Marsha Hubler
(writers’ blog)
Author of the Keystone Stables Series