Today’s Horse Facts: The Nonius – The Ideal Horse for a Safe Ride!

The Nonius (Nó ni usz) horse from the country of Hungary has his roots with Arabian and Turkish horses going back as far as the 16th Century.

The Nonius: The Ideal Horse for a Safe Ride!

To see a photo of this horse breed, go to 

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord.”

(Proverbs 21:31)

The Nonius (Nó ni usz) from the country of Hungary has his roots with Arabian and Turkish horses going back as far as the 16th Century.  During the 18th Century, the Hungarian kings decided to crossbreed their horses with stallions from Spain and Portugal, which led to a handsome horse with a thick arched neck, a large but elegant head, and a short back. Because the aristocrats demanded a beautiful yet limber steed, in 1784, the State Stud of the Hungarian Royal and Imperial Court in the southeastern town of Mezőhegyes was founded to develop a strong yet beautiful breed.

At that time, history records that Hungary had about 1.5 million horses, 10,000 to 15,000 of them working in the cavalry every year. Although the kings and aristocrats wanted quick riding horses for their military, the common people looked for reliable mounts for hunting and for elegant horses to drive carriages. Those demands led to the development of three different breeds: the Gidrán, the Furioso-North Star, and the Nonius.

You might think the name “Nonius” is a strange name for a breed of horses. The Nonius is a breed named after Nonius, the Anglo-Norman foundation sire. He was born in 1810 in Calvados, Normandy, in France. His sire was named Orion, and, while sources differ on his breeding, he was either a Thoroughbred, a Norfolk Trotter, or a combination of the two.

Even as a foal, Nonius was considered ugly. Even today the breed is known for the heavy head with a convex profile called a Roman nose. He’s generally dark in color, most of the breed being black, dark bay or brown, either unmarked lightly marked with white. He’s muscular and heavy-boned, similar to other light draft and driving horses and stands between 15.1 to 16.1 hands.

During the 20th Century, the Nonius became a farm horse. Sadly, as with so many beautiful horses in the 1930s and 40s, World War II significantly reduced the breed. It’s believed there were only 50 mares left at that time. And for a few decades after the war, the lack of use for horses in Hungary sent many to the slaughterhouse.

The Nonius exhibits traits common to heavy-boned driving and light draft horses: a powerful and arched neck, broad and muscular back, and deep, sloping hindquarters. Although he’s one of the heaviest warmblood driving horses, he’s known for a kind, even temperament and eagerness to work in harness and under saddle. An extra bonus with this breed is he’s easy to keep.

The number of Nonius horses today is believed to be at about 450 mares and 80 stallions. The largest population is still found in the town of Mezőhegyes, Hungary, with other small herds in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Serbian province of Vojvodina. Regardless of where you find a Nonius, you can make certain, he’s been well-trained and prepared to serve over the years and will give a safe, enjoyable, and exciting ride.

How about you? Are you “well-trained” and prepared to serve the Lord every day? Do you get up with a smile on your face and a desire to do right? If you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He’s ready to help you as you read your Bible and pray. Then you’ll certainly be prepared to face each new day and the challenges it brings.

PRAYER: Dear God, I ask that you’ll help me be prepared for each new day by reading the Bible and praying. I know I can be “safe” with you as my guide. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

What distracts you from reading your Bible and praying? Determine to set aside a special time each day to meet with God during your devotions.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Today the Nonius is bred by horse lovers passionate about preserving the breed and is used for farming, trail riding, and competitive driving sports.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually” (Psalm 119:117 NKJV).



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

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!


Today’s Horse Facts: The Nez Perce (Nez Perz) – The Horse with an Attitude

The Nez Perce Horse is another breed with deep roots in the United States. This fascinating horse originated with the American native tribe of the Nez Perce.

The Nez Perce (Nez Perz): The Horse with an Attitude

To see a photo of this horse breed, go to

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

(Philippians 4:8)

The Nez Perce Horse is another breed with deep roots in the United States. This fascinating horse originated with the American native tribe of the Nez Perce, who lived in Idaho and are still recognized by the federal government as authentic Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest today.

In 1805, when Lewis and Clark made their way through the Bitterroot Mountains into Nez Perce territory in eastern Idaho, they noticed the natives riding strong, magnificent horses. At that time the breed of horse was called the Cordoba, which resembled a breed imported from Spain. The natives rode the Cordobas into battle because the breed had exceptional war skills.

Over almost the next two hundred years, many native tribes and their horses disappeared in America. But not so with the Nez Perce. Surviving through time, those natives took special pride in their horses. In 1938, they started to breed their horses with the Appaloosa, and a beautiful spotted or blanketed horse emerged. In 1995, the Nez Perce Horse Registry (NPHR) program began in Lapwai, Idaho, cross-breeding their Appaloosas with the Akhal-Teke, the stunning “shiny” horse from Central Asia. The United States Department of Health and Human Services financed the program and worked with the Nez Perce tribe and a nonprofit group called the First Nations Development Institute, which promotes such businesses.

Thus, a new breed of horse now roams the Nez Perce reservation. Today’s Nez Perce breed is tall and muscular with the amazing colors of black, golden, metallic, and palomino. He can also be buckskin and dark bay with a spotted blanket or patchy coat. This new crossbreed resembles the magnificent equines the Nez Perce warriors rode in the past, and the Native Americans couldn’t be prouder!

It’s been reported that the Nez Perce say their horse has an “attitude.” But the attitude refers more to the excellence of the breed than the way the horse behaves. The Native Americans have done their best to follow the lead of their ancestors and to carry on tribe’s tradition and legacy. Their horse’s conformation is longer and leaner than other stock horses in the western U.S., with narrower shoulders, a longer back, and narrow hindquarters. They’re often gaited, with a fast and smooth running walk, and they’re great for endurance races, long trail rides, and jumping.

With such excellent characteristics, you might say the Nez Perce Horse has a very good attitude! How about you?

Has anyone ever said that you have an attitude?  Attitudes can be good or bad. An attitude can help shape your personality. People might say you are either pleasant or grumpy all the time. What should a Christian young person’s attitude be?

The Bible tells us that Christians should always be cheerful and thankful for Jesus. If you love the Lord and want to please Him, then you have the best attitude you could have. If you sometimes have a sour attitude, then ask God to help you be kind and considerate, and He will.

PRAYER: Dear God, I want to have the best attitude so I’ll be a good testimony for you in front of others. Please help me to be pleasant and helpful. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of a few things that might cause you to have a bad attitude. Then write on a piece of paper what you might do to change that attitude.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  In 1995, the Nez Perce natives acquired four Akhal-Teke stallions and two mares from the country of Turkmenistan to start the Nez Perce Horse Registry and crossbreed with their Appaloosa-type horses.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NIRV).






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

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

The New Forest Pony: An Unusual Mark

(Go to to see a picture of this equine)

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

Against such there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Today’s Horse Facts: The Mustang –

“Mustang” refers to the wild horses that roam the ranges of the western United States. The name comes from the Spanish word mesteña, which means “wild” or “stray.”

The Mustang: A Tongue Bridled and Tamed

To see a photo of a Mustang, please go to

“…We put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 

 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

(James 3:3, 5 NKJV)

“Mustang” refers to the wild horses that roam the ranges of the western United States. The name comes from the Spanish word mesteña, which means “wild” or “stray.”

If you want to know what a Mustang looks like, that’s hard to describe because the breed has no overall characteristics. The reason? Many different breeds of horses over the centuries have contributed to the Mustang’s development. Some Mustangs are large and plump; others are smaller and delicate. The amount of available forage in different ranges also contributes to the horses’ different body shapes and sizes.

Although Mustangs are considered wild, the proper term is “feral” because they descended from domesticated horses. Mustangs are a breed known for their sure-footedness, toughness, and intelligence. They range from 13 to 16 hands, weigh from 600 to 1000 pounds, and are well suited for the rugged land. Mustangs come in any color or combination of colors.

Although Mustangs are often referred to as an “Indian ponies” or “paint ponies,” they’re not ponies but horses. Strangely, Native Americans were not the first to own Mustangs. In the 16th Century, Spanish conquistadors arrived in America with their equines that had Barb and Iberian roots. When the Native Americans realized how useful horses could be, they embraced them and made them an important part of their culture. Over time, large bands of wild horses formed in the West from those abandoned or those that escaped and ran free from the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, ranchers, soldiers, and miners.  From those horses came Mustangs numbering between two and four million in the mid-17th Century.  However, over the next three hundred years, the numbers reduced drastically from either natural causes or ranchers shooting the Mustangs to protect grazing lands. It took until near the end of the 20th Century for anything to be done to keep the Mustangs from going extinct.

Finally, Mustang enthusiasts and horse lovers in general decided to protect the magnificent Mustangs that are a symbol of America’s pioneer spirit of the Wild West.  In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. With that bill, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) became responsible for preserving and managing the wild Mustangs and keeping an eye on the ecological balance between wild horse herds, wildlife, and domestic animals grazing on western public lands. Today the number of wild Mustangs is believed to be at least 50,000.

Although Mustang enthusiasts believe all Mustangs should roam free, an alternative plan developed to save the herds from dying off or being killed. To help control the overpopulation of Mustangs, cowboys rounded up some of the horses and placed them in temporary holding areas or offered them to be adopted by horse lovers. This plan is still in effect today. But the one thing Mustang advocates are dead set against is selling the horses for their meat to dog food suppliers.

The BLM determines where and how many Mustangs will be kept as free-roaming animals. More than half of all Mustangs in North America are in Nevada (which features the horses on its state quarter coin). Other very large herds are found in California, Oregon, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. Yet, another 34,000 horses are in government-run holding facilities.

The National Mustang Association (NMA), established in 1965, works closely with the Bureau of Land Management. They help place Mustangs in good homes of horse-loving people. Thousands of Mustangs have been adopted by patient owners, who have gentled and trained them for trail riding.

Training a wild Mustang requires lots of time and patience. After the horse learns to trust his owner, one of the first steps is getting the horse to respond to the bit in his mouth. Once he knows the bridle is to help him not hurt him, the Mustang learns to control his whole body depending on which way his rider reins the bit. Although the bit is only a few inches long, it can make a powerful, spunky horse obey!

The Bible tells us that our mouths need to be controlled just like the Mustangs’ mouths. Our words can get us into a lot of trouble.

Have you ever said something that was just plain mean or nasty? Do you lose your temper and lose control of your tongue?  God wants us to know if we learn to control our tongues, we’ll be better able to control our whole bodies. A sign of wisdom and obedience to God is learning to control our tongues.

So how is such a hard thing possible? The Bible says to think before you speak and always look for encouraging words to say. If you pray for God’s help and focus on being positive, you’ll learn to control your tongue and become a kind young Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me control the words I say. I want to be kind to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

What should you do if you say something unkind to a family member or friend?

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The NMA has an Adopt-a-Horse-For-A-Year program.  The Mustangs in this program roam freely at the Barclay, Nevada ranch owned by the NMA.  This special place is a sanctuary for Mustangs and other wildlife.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you” (Psalm 32:9).