Today’s Horse Facts: The DUTCH HARNESS HORSE: A High Stepper

“Fancy” is what we horse lovers consider the Dutch Harness Horse. Why?

The Dutch Harness Horse: A High Stepper

Dutchharnesshorse.jpg

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

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

 (Psalm 37:23)

For many centuries the Dutch (people from the Netherlands in Europe) concentrated on breeding high-stepping horses. Although farmers valued the horse as a helper and a source of income, they also considered a fancy horse a status symbol. And “fancy” is what we have with the Dutch Harness Horse.

The Dutch have a strong tradition of breeding driving horses. You might wonder what the difference is between a harness horse and a driving horse. There is no difference. The term “in harness” often describes a horse being driven. A horse harness is a type of tack with a breast collar that allows a horse to pull heavy vehicles such as carriages, wagons, or sleighs. The Dutch Harness Horse is noted for pulling lighter, fancier carriages in international competition. But where did he get his start?

During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the warm-blooded Dutch Harness Horses were known as “luxury horses.” The first studbook in The Netherlands was founded in 1879, which started classifying them as a recognizable breed. It eventually emerged from two separate equines in the Netherlands. One breed, the northern Groningen, was heavier and had dark coats. The Gelderlander from southern Netherlands was taller and leggier and chestnut in color. Although the resulting horses were stout and could work on farms, they were also elegant with a high step to pull fancy carriages. Owners continued to improve their horses by breeding the best mares to the best trotting stallions. The result? The more streamlined and fancier “Sunday horses” became a separate line from the stronger working horses.

Because of those horses’ classy development, their owners started competing to see whose equine was the showiest. When machines made farm horses unnecessary, the higher-steppers were bred for driving competition. Thus, by 1969, the Dutch Harness Horse became so popular, The Royal Warmblood Horse Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN) was founded to preserve the breed.

As recent as the late 20th Century, more crossbreeding with Hackneys and Standardbreds resulted in a harness horse with stunning beauty and a natural high step. Today, although only 40 sires and fewer than 2,000 broodmares are registered, the Dutch Harness Horses are very easy to spot.  In the past few years, a few have come to North America and have been crossbred with Arabians, where they are used as sport horses and saddle seat horses. Regardless of how they’re shown, their fancy trot separates them from most other breeds. And there’s a reason why.

The Dutch Harness Horse is unique in that he has strict rules when showing, and it has to do with his feet. The shoes must be within a certain width and thickness, and pads added to the hoof are prohibited. He’s then able to step “to the high heavens” on his own, not because of special shoeing.

Besides his high stepping, the Dutch Harness Horse would have a braided mane and a natural tail in competition. He’d be decked with gorgeous tack, often wearing a white bridle with a cavesson (a noseband) that might match a white carriage. His coat colors can be chestnut, bay, brown, or black. However, he might be gray, a shade of roan, or a creme color. A tobiano paint Dutch Harness Horse surfaces occasionally, but he’d be rare. Regardless of the appearance of this beautiful horse, one fact is certain. He’s proud to be high stepping for the one controlling his reins.

As the steps of a Dutch Harness Horse are in the hands of his driver, so are our steps in the hands of our Driver. Have you ever thought about your life and how each and every detail is planned by our Amazing God?

The Bible tells us that God has a plan for every Christian, and the Lord directs every step in the life of a believer who trusts in God’s wisdom.

Do you pray and ask God for wisdom and for Him to direct your steps? If you have, then God directs your steps through those older and wiser such as a parent, a pastor, or a teacher. Obeying those people will make you a “high-stepper,” allowing the Lord to direct your steps throughout your entire life.

PRAYER: Dear God, I trust you with my life, and I want you to plan my steps. I’m willing to serve you in whatever you ask me to do.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

What do you think might be some “good” steps a young Christian should take in his life? Be determined to take those steps in your Christian walk with Jesus.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Branding horses is now illegal in the Netherlands, so the red-lion-standing-on-his-hind-legs brand of the KWPN is found on the left thigh of only older horses. Today, KWPN horses are microchipped instead.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 NKJV).

LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS.

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Today’s Horse Fact: The Furioso-North Star: Fearless!

Have you ever heard of a Furioso horse? The Furioso-North Star is a warm-blooded breed named after two stallions that started the line over 200 years ago. 

The Furioso-North Star: Fearless!

Furioso1-250x221.jpg

(Photo compliments Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furioso-North_Star)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.”

(1 John 4:18a)

The Furioso-North Star is a warm-blooded breed named after two stallions that started the line over 200 years ago.  There’s ongoing discussion whether the breed originated in Hungary or Romania, countries in Europe. Unfortunately, today The Furioso-North Star is endangered with only small numbers in those two countries and Slovakia. Those countries, involved in raising this rare horse for centuries, still have small herds grazing on their grasslands today. Because a few of these horses are only privately owned, the Furioso-North Star is considered a very valuable breed.

So, where did this horse get his start?

A beautiful English Thoroughbred named Furioso was foaled in 1836 at a stud farm in Hungary.  Four years later, he was crossbred with Hungarian mares, which started the line of Furiosos.  At about the same time, another Thoroughbred stallion, North Star, came from England and crossed with Hungarian mares. Those foals became known as the Furioso-North Star driving horses. North Star also sired foals of Norfolk Trotters and with Hungarian Nonius mares. By the end of the 19th Century, the two lines merged and were called Furioso-North Stars.  North Stars produced great harness racehorses, and Furiosos produced excellent heavyweight riding horses.

The Furioso-North Star makes a noble appearance with a strong body. He has the reputation of having a calm temperament and learns quickly. He’s a medium-heavy horse with a large frame that stands at 15.2 to 16.3 hands.  He’s mostly bay but can be chestnut or black. He’s done light farm work, has performed in competition, and has been used in harness.

The Furioso is known as a good quality riding horse especially for one type of rider, the Csikos (CHI-kosh) from Hungary. They would say the Furioso faces any rider’s challenge with a good attitude. The Furioso’s shoulders and legs are muscular and strong enough to hold tremendous weights, even off-balanced ones like the trick-riding Csikos. And the horse does it with no fear!

Why would a horse fear any rider or anything the rider would do? We’re not just talking about any rider.

The Csikos, mounted horse-herdsmen of Hungary, famous all over the world for their trick riding skills, often use the Furioso for their performances. What’s unusual is how highly trained their horses are.

If you know anything about horses, then you know how “skittish” or overcautious most foals are. Many are afraid of loud noises, water in hoses, fire, or any fast movement around their bodies. Even as they mature, horses can fear the saddle or any weight on their backs as well as the bit in their mouth.  We’ll have to admit they’re often big scaredy cats!

However, when trained properly from little up, especially for Csikos trick riders, Furiosos have no fear of anything the riders do. Some riders stand on their heads on the back of the horse, hang off the side of the horse, crawl under the horse’s belly and come up the other side, carry flaming torches, or stand backwards on the saddle, and all of the tricks are done while the horse is galloping around an arena!  The Furioso-North Stars are truly fearless!

Can you say you’re fearless like the Furioso-North Star, or are you afraid of things? How about the dark? Spiders? Snakes? The bully in your school or neighborhood? Were you bitten by a dog once and now you’re afraid of all dogs?

Most people have some fears about all kinds of things, and they might say it’s just part of being human. However, do you know the Bible talks a lot about how we should handle our fears? God wants us to give all our fears and concerns to Him.

You might wonder how to do that. The Bible says to pray and ask God to give you courage then trust in the Lord for peace in your heart that only He can give. If you ask God to take the fears from you, He will. That doesn’t mean the dangers are gone, but you’ll be able to face them with a different attitude. God loves you, and love always takes away fears. With God on your side, you can conquer any fear you face.

PRAYER: Dear God, I know You love me, and I can trust in You to take my fears away. Please help me to always remember that.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some of your fears and ask God to take the fear from you. It might be a good time to discuss your fears with a parent.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  In 1784, the Hungarian Emperor Josef II founded the stud farm, Mezohegyes, which became one of Europe’s great horse breeding centers.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT  59 DIFFERENT BREEDS OF HORSES?

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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).

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT  59 DIFFERENT BREEDS OF HORSES?

CHECK OUT MY LATEST BOOK:

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: A 60-DAY DEVOTIONAL FOR KIDS

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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).

**********

Would you like to learn more about different breeds of horses and at the same time, learn about our wonderful God?

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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 Cleveland Bay – Welcomed at the Royal Palace

The Cleveland Bay horse has a special job. Most likely, you’ve seen him on TV when he’s working. But who does he work for?

The Cleveland Bay: Welcomed at the Royal Palace

A team of four bay (brown with black mane and tail) horses trotting along a cobblestone path with trees and fields in the background. They are pulling a green carriage in which several people ride.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Bay

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

(Romans 8:16-17a)

If a horse is named a “bay,” can you guess what color he is? Right! He’s a shade of brown with a black mane, black tail, and black stockings. He could be a golden chestnut or as dark as milk chocolate, but he’d still have those black trimmings. And that’s exactly what we’ve got with the Cleveland Bay!

The Cleveland Bay is the oldest breed from England, believed to date back to the 17th Century. He’s named after his consistent bay colors and the Cleveland district in Yorkshire. Although this horse is always labeled “bay,” a few light hairs are sometimes found in the mane and tail of some. Breeders prefer bays with a more reddish tint than other shades. However, if any white markings appear on a colt, except for a small star on the forehead, he’s not able to be registered in the stud book. The shades of bay are important when creating matching driving  pairs because drivers want their teams to look almost identical.

The earliest breeding of the Bay was done mostly by church members and priests in monasteries in the Middle Ages. They needed pack horses to carry trade goods between abbeys and monasteries in northeast England. Those pack horses were eventually crossbred with Andalusians and Barbs and later with Arabians and Thoroughbreds to create the lighter-in-weight Cleveland Bay of today.

Over the next few hundred years, interest in the Bay waned, mostly because of the invention of the automobile. In the early and mid-20th Century, breeders started using Bays as hunters. Unfortunately, breeders soon lost interest in them, and by 1962, only four stallions were left in England. But then Queen Elizabeth II, knowing the breed was used to drive royal carriages since the1920s, took a personal interest in the Bay and saved it by purchasing Mulgrave Supreme, a stallion that was about to be sold to a U.S. buyer. The queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg, did all they could to preserve the breed, and within 15 years there were 36 purebred stallions in the United Kingdom.  Because the prince used the breed in international driving competitions in the late 1960s and 1970s, horse lovers became more interested then wanted part-bred Cleveland Bays for riding horses, hunters, and jumpers. In 1964, a Cleveland Bay/ Thoroughbred even competed in show jumping in the Tokyo Olympics!

Since 1977, Elizabeth II has been a patron of the British Cleveland Bay Horse Society and has worked tirelessly to preserve this special horse. Yet, despite her efforts, the UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust considers the Bay’s numbers to be critical with less than 300 mares registered. At last count, it’s been reported only about 550 Cleveland Bays exist worldwide.

Cleveland Bays have a sweet, calm temperament and stand between 16 and 16.2 hands. They have a muscular body and strong legs that seem a little too short for the stout body. They’re versatile, performing well at driving, show jumping, and farm work. But best of all, Bays have been fortunate enough to be chosen by the British Royal Family for almost a century and are still used to pull carriages in royal processions today.

As you think about the Cleveland Bay being part of the queen’s royal palace, do you realize if you’ve asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior, you’re included in the royal family of the God of the Universe? The Bible says if we’ve accepted Jesus, God has adopted us into His royal eternal family, and we are heirs of His kingdom. Every Christian is considered a child of the King. The Bible also tells us we are sons of God, and one day we’ll inherit all that God has, including beautiful homes in heaven.

Of course, you’re already part of your human family here on earth whether you’re naturally born into that family or adopted. Your family members love you and have given you all the rights and privileges available as part of that family. How cool is that?

Since you’re a member of your human family, do you represent the family well? Do you act responsibly as a young Christian? Perhaps a parent has said this: “Act like you’re part of our family. Make me proud of you.”

Do you know God our Heavenly Father also wants His children to make Him proud?

As a member of God’s family, do you try to please Him and make Him proud? Maybe you never realized you are a child of the King. If you face every new day with the desire to obey not only your parents but God as well, then you’ll make all of them proud.

PRAYER: Dear God, I realize you are my heavenly Father, and I’m your child. I pray I can live every day to please you. Please help me do that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some things you can do to make God and your family proud.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Today Cleveland Bays make up the majority of the bay horses in the Royal Mews, the British royal stables, where they receive intense training to pull royal carriages.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

**********

Would you like to learn more about different breeds of horses and at the same time, learn about our wonderful God?

Then this is the book for you:

https://amzn.to/2BxEg7k

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

http://amzn.to/2nPbZ5q

If you’d like any of these books autographed by me, then contact me through my website email link:

https://marshahublerauthor.com/

 

Today’s Horse Facts: The Chincoteague – Redeemed!

Do you know what a Chincoteague Pony is? Every year, as many as 50,000 horse lovers from all over the world gather the last Wednesday and Thursday of July to watch “Saltwater Cowboys” swim a pony herd from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island on the Maryland/Virginia border. Find out more at today’s Horse Facts blog.

The Chincoteague Pony: Redeemed!

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chincoteague_Pony)

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand

at the latter day upon the earth.”

(Job 19: 25)

Every year, as many as 50,000 horse lovers from all over the world gather the last Wednesday and Thursday of July to watch “Saltwater Cowboys” swim a pony herd from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island on the Maryland/Virginia border. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company in Virginia owns and manages the herd of about 300, with 150 adult ponies making the five-to-ten-minute swim. Both the cowboys and the observers are on hand to assist horses, especially foals, which may have a hard time crossing.

Wild ponies have lived on Assateague Island for hundreds of years. Some believe these special equines can trace their origin to early settlers releasing the horses to forage on the island. However, most people believe the ponies are the descendants of the survivors of a Spanish galleon that wrecked off the coast of Assateague hundreds of years ago. The large number of shipwrecks on record along with the fact that it was common for ships to transport ponies to the colonies of South America make it likely that the ponies originally got to Assateague from a shipwreck.

Because the Assateague Island is a harsh environment for any animal, the ponies’ diet is limited, so they’ve had to adapt. Quite unusual is their main food of saltwater-saturated cord grass in the marshes on Assateague Island. They eat almost all day long just to get enough nutrition to sustain themselves.

The wild ponies congregate in small groups called “bands.” (We usually call large groups of horses “herds.”) Each band has one dominant stallion with a nice group of mares that have foals by him. About 70 foals are born every spring on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. Also, an average of 75 percent of the adult mares have foals every year, a high foaling rate for wild horses.

In 1994 to make sure the special ponies would be recognized, the Chincoteague Pony became an official registered breed. His average height is between 12 and 13 hands (Any “horse” that stands less than 14 hands is considered a pony). He’s stocky with short legs, thick mane, and a large, round belly. You’ll find Chincoteagues in any solid colors, but most of them are pinto.

A very interesting fact about the sale of Chincoteague Ponies concerns the preservation of the breed. Just so the ponies don’t dwindle into extinction, a few select foals in excellent shape are designated as “buybacks” at the annual sale. A buyback pony is auctioned with the stipulation that the person who buys the pony will donate him back to the fire company and return him to Assateague Island to help replenish the herd. The winner of a buyback pony gets a certificate from the fire company and gets to name the pony before it’s returned to Assateague Island.

Buyback or “redeemed” ponies are very popular and have actually become some of the highest priced foals sold at the auction. As of 2015, the highest price paid for a pony was $25,000 and the lowest price was $500.  If you ever go to the Chincoteague Pony roundup, do you think you’d like to bid on a pony to redeem it?

Do you know if you’re a Christian, you’ve also been redeemed? The words “redeemed” and “redeemer” are mentioned in over 120 verses in the Bible. They tell us that Jesus created us. In other words, He “owned” us, but our sin separated us from Him. We were “lost.” But because Jesus loves us so much, He came to earth to die on the cross so we could have our sins forgiven. That’s how He redeemed us. We became “buybacks.” The Bible tells us Jesus became our Redeemer so those who believe in Him can go to heaven someday.

If you’ve asked Jesus to be your Savior, then you’ve been redeemed!

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being my Savior and Redeemer. Thank you for “buying me back” when you died on the cross for my sins. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Can you explain what “redeem” means to your friends by using this example: “My dog that I just bought at the pet store was lost for over a month. But then ….

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  To compensate for all the salt in the cord grass the ponies eat, they drink twice as much water as a normal horse. That’s why their bellies always look bloated.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

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If you like learning about horses and learning about our wonderful God, check out my latest book:

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH:  A 60-Day Devotional for Kids

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Today’s Horse Fact: The Caspian – Runs the Race to Win!

If you like Arabians, you’ll probably like Caspians. Caspians have the beauty and endurance of the Arabian and the build of a miniature Thoroughbred.

The Caspian: Runs the Race to Win!

Caspian Stallion (caspians are considered horses, not ponies).jpg

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

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?

So run, that ye may obtain.”

(1 Corinthians 9:24)

If you like Arabians, you’ll probably like Caspians. Caspians have the beauty and endurance of the Arabian and the build of a miniature Thoroughbred.

The Caspian originated in northern Iran. Horse enthusiasts believe this breed is one of the most ancient equines, possibly going back over 4000 years. Archaeological remains found in northern Iran of a little horse with a light frame, refined head with large eyes, short ears, and small muzzle seem to support that theory. Even though his height ranges only between nine and 11.2 hands, he’s classified a horse rather than a pony because of his body shape, different gaits, and gentle nature.

So, how did the equine world first learn of this fantastic little horse?

For many years, Caspians were thought to have been extinct. But in 1965, Louise Firouz, a horse-loving American known as “the Lady of Horses,” discovered a small horse in the Elborz Mountains of northern Iran while searching for ponies for American children. She thought she had found a chestnut bay pony pulling a cart. However, on closer inspection, she realized the stallion had the body of a horse. She purchased him, positive he had Caspian blood. When blood and DNA samples were tested, sure enough, archeo-zoologists proved the breed had come from a miniature Mesopotamian horse. These horses had managed to survive in small numbers because they lived between a mountain chain and the Caspian Sea with no outside influence.

Louise kept her spunky two-year-old stallion at her farm near Teheran for a year and trained him to take a rider and to drive different carts. She then brought him to America on a long flight, including five different layovers and six days of quarantine in New York. Though all of that ordeal, the little horse remained calm yet curious, both strong traits of Caspians.

He finally arrived at his new home in Virginia where he spent the rest of his life participating in exhibitions and shows. Although there were no Caspian mares in the U.S., he sired quite a few part-bred foals before his death in 1993.

Fortunately, the Caspian breed did not disappear from the scenes at that time. Caspian horse lovers determined to increase the breed’s numbers and status in the equine world. From 1994 until the present, dozens of Caspian studs and mares came to America, thus increasing horse enthusiasts’ knowledge of the rare breed.

In 2008, the Caspians still numbered only about 1600. At last count, the U.S. claims to have over 500 of the special horses. The good news is they’re no longer in danger of becoming extinct. That shouldn’t happen with horse lovers like the Caspian Horse Society of the Americas Official Registry and Mrs. Firouz’s children, who work endlessly to preserve the breed.

If you want to find Caspians, you’ll have to attend horse shows where you might find this little equine in different events. One of his favorites is scurry driving, where he races his little heart out to win. In fast-paced Double Harness Scurry Driving, two ponies, or horses like the Caspians, pull a carriage around a course of cones in fast time without knocking down the cones. Competitions take place in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and northern Europe, including England.

If you’re not sure you’re looking at a Caspian, remember the difference between him and a pony. The Caspian’s coat is shiny and solid, including solid gray tones that might look white, and he has a deep girth with well-developed hindquarters. If you’re close enough to see his hooves, they’re oval-shaped and are rarely shod, even under extreme conditions. But one thing is certain about the Caspian. He runs every race with one goal in mind: to cross the finish line first.

Do you run races with the passion like the little Caspian does?

I’m not only talking about races you might run with your friends during field days or just fun in the backyard.

The Bible tells us that as Christians, we’re to serve God as though we’re running a race. That means we should strive to please Him to the best of our ability. The Bible tells us we will earn rewards, or “prizes,” like gorgeous crowns in heaven if we serve God faithfully now and do it with smiles on our faces.

Do you get up every morning with the determination to please the Lord? If you do, then you are “running your race to win!”

PRAYER: Dear God, I want to “run a strong race” for you in everything I do. Please give me the desire and courage so I don’t quit when things get hard. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Can you think what God might have you do to “run the race” better?  Could it be obeying at home? Spending more time reading your Bible? Just being thankful more instead of complaining?

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The Caspian is different from all other breeds in a really strange way. He has an extra molar in his upper jaw.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NKJV).

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Would you like to read about more horse breeds?

Do you know there are well over 100 different breeds?

Learn about 60 of them in my latest book, 

 

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: A 60-DAY DEVOTIONAL FOR KIDS



You can get a signed copy from me. Just email me at marshahubler@outlook.com OR

order a copy on Amazon: 

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