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

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

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

To see a picture of this horse go to  

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

there is none other besides Him.”

(Deuteronomy 4:35 NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

Today’s Horse Facts: The Miniature Horse – He’s for Real!

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds.

The Miniature Horse: No Doubt He’s for Real!

(To see a picture of a Miniature Horse, go to Wikipedia:

“I’m writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. I’m writing so you will know that you have eternal life.”

(1 John 5:13 NIRV)

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds. In fact, he’s so much like the big guys, if you’d see a Miniature Horse standing in a pasture somewhere, you might think he’s just a statue of a larger horse.

The Miniature Horse is just that—a horse, not a pony. We can trace his history back to the 17th Century in Europe when kings and nobles admired such different horses and sought to raise them. But many other Miniature Horses, or “Minis,” who weren’t fortunate enough to live in a king’s barn worked as “pit ponies” inside mines. Sometimes those poor little horses lived inside the mines and never saw the light of day. The English began using ponies in their mines after the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 prohibited the use of young children.

The first small horses in the United States date back to 1861, when a tiny-horse enthusiast, John Rarey, brought four Shetland Ponies, one only 24 inches tall, to our country. Throughout the late 1800s and into mid-1900, more Minis came from English and Dutch mines to work in coal mines in the U.S. Then in the 1960s, horse lovers as well as the general public developed a real interest in Miniature Horses, which, fortunately, brought the Minis out of the mines and into sport and show competition.

Over the years as more interest grew in the Minis, they were crossbred with other breeds such as the Hackney for a more handsome look and more nimble footwork. Although almost all Minis can’t be ridden even by children, they’re still very popular and are used in all kinds of competition such as driving, obstacle courses, and halter. Because they’re so small, easy to keep, and interact well with humans, many Minis have important jobs. They’re often kept as family pets, (although the Minis still have “horse” traits), and they also can be trained as service animals, doing the same things that dogs do who work for folks with special needs.

So how tiny is tiny? Take a yardstick and stand it on end. That’s about the height of a Miniature Horse. Because they’re so small, they’re measured in inches not in hands. Any color or combination of colors is acceptable, so Minis come in a large variety of splashy colors, including palomino, pinto, and even a cross between a pinto and an Appaloosa called a “Pintaloosa.”

You can find two registries in the United States for Miniature Horses, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). Founded in 1978, the AMHA started establishing the Miniature Horse as a distinct breed. Today there are dozens of miniature horse registries all over the world. Some of the registries want the breeding of Minis to keep horse characteristics, while other associations want their Minis to have pony characteristics. Along with all these different general Miniature Horse associations, there are also registries for specific types of Minis, such as the Falabella and the South African Miniature Horse.

Minis are healthy animals, often living longer than some full-sized horses. The average life span of Miniature Horses is from 25 to 35 years. Minis have become so popular all around the world that their associations have more than 12,000 enthusiasts in over 30 countries.  For those Mini lovers, there’s no doubt the little equine is a horse in every sense of the word.

Doubt. In our lives, doubt can surface at any time. Have you ever doubted it would stop raining for the family picnic? Or have you doubted whether you’d like the new broccoli casserole or not? Maybe you’ve doubted if you’d ever finish your tons of homework in one evening. Or maybe you’ve doubted if you’ll ever get that puppy or pair of sneakers you want so badly. But there’s one thing you should never doubt.

The Bible tells us when we accept Jesus as our Savior we should never doubt our salvation. When we become Christians, that doesn’t mean we’ll never sin or make mistakes again. It also doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians anymore. All God wants us to do is ask for forgiveness, and He does forgive. God’s Word says we only ever have to ask Christ into our lives one time, and from that moment on, we never have to doubt that we are Christians ever again.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for giving me eternal life that can never be taken away from me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of  anything that might cause you to doubt whether you’re a Christian or not. Ask God to forgive you, and He will. Remember, once a Christian, always a Christian.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The AMHA has nearly 230,000 registered Miniatures.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” ( 2 Timothy 3: 14-15 NIRV).





Today’s Horse Facts: The Lippizan – He and his Rider are One!

The Lipizzan is one of the most beautiful horses in God’s creation. He’s known as “the dancer.”

The Lipizzan: He and his Rider are One!

To see a photo of a Lipizzan horse, go to: 

“…believe these works. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me

and I am in the Father.”

(John 10:38b NIRV)

The Lipizzan is one of the most beautiful horses in God’s creation. He’s known as “the dancer” and is considered the ambassador of all the fancy horse performances: classical dressage.

The dressage this equine has perfected is completely different from what you see in the familiar dressage performance in a horse show or the Olympics. The Lipizzan, with powerful haunches, performs high jumping and kicking movements such as the piaffe (pee´ af) and passage (pass sahg´). Strange as it seems, the Lipizzan was specifically bred for an ancient art form that began as training for cavalry mounts.

The Lipizzan’s roots go back to the Muslim Moors, who occupied Spain from about 711 to 1492 and considered the Spanish horses the supreme cavalry mount. By the 16th Century, when the Habsburgs ruled Spain and Austria, they wanted to develop a powerful but agile horse for the military and for use in the popular riding schools for the European nobility. In 1562, Habsburg Emperor Maximillian II brought the Spanish Andalusian horse to Austria. In 1580, his brother, Archduke Charles II, perfected a similar stud near the village of Lipizza (now called Lipica) in Slovenia (a small country just south of Austria).

The White Stallions of Vienna at the Spanish Riding School in Austria came from that lineage.  The Lipizzans, (only stallions), still train at the world-renowned school to learn the complicated and beautiful movements called “airs above the ground.” The horses arrive when they’re four years old and train an average of six years. They graduate when they’ve mastered all the skills required to perform perfectly before large audiences all around the world. Despite their demanding work, Lipizzans are an extremely hardy breed. Some have been able to perform the difficult exercises well into their 20s and have lived into their 30s.

Over the last century, the breed has been endangered numerous times by wars in Europe. Fortunately, horse enthusiasts have stepped in every time and rescued them. The most famous rescue occurred during World War II by General George S. Patton and our American troops. The 1963 Disney movie “Miracle of the White Stallions” made that rescue famous. Besides being featured in the Disney movie, Lipizzans have also starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, and books. In 2005, the Spanish Riding School toured the U.S. to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Patton’s rescue.

Today, all Lipizzans standing between 14 and 16 hands trace their bloodlines to eight stallions. Various breed registries also recognize 35 mare lines. The majority of horses, 11,000 in 19 countries, are registered through the Lipizzan International Federation. Most Lipizzans are in Europe, but small numbers can be found in the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

Watching a performing Lipizzan, you’d think he’s pure white. However, most Lipizzans are not true white horses. They’re gray. Like all grays, they have black skin, dark eyes, and a coat that looks white. They’re born dark—usually bay or black—and become lighter each year until they’re between six and ten years old.

Because the Lipizzans are the only breed of horse developed in Slovenia, the Slovenians are proud to call the Lipizzan their national animal. They’ve even honored the horse by featuring a pair of Lipizzans on the 20-cent Slovenian euro coins.

Who can blame the people of Slovenia when considering their amazing dancing Lipizzans? If you ever have the privilege to see the Lipizzans in person, you’ll probably sit in awe of their magnificent performance. But those horses didn’t just happen to be that way.

The Lipizzans perform at the whim of skilled riders who, with the slightest signal of their hands or feet, direct the horses to execute their moves.  Each horse and his rider move so perfectly together, they appear as one body, stunning the audiences with their spectacular maneuvers.

There are three important persons who also work together as one unit, and that’s God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many times in the scriptures, Jesus claimed that He and God are one. Therefore, Jesus claimed to be God, and rightfully so. We can’t fully understand what Jesus meant when He said that He is one with God, but the Bible says to believe in faith that it’s true.

Sadly, many people in the world today think Jesus was just a good man or a prophet of God, but not the Son of God, who is equal with God. If that were the case, Jesus couldn’t be our Savior because only a perfect sacrifice can forgive our sins and make us ready for heaven.

If you believe that God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Son are “one” and that Jesus is your Savior, then you are on your way to heaven. With all the miracles Jesus performed on earth, how could He be anyone other than God in the flesh? Thank Him for being your Savior.

PRAYER: Dear God, although I might not understand how You, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus can be “one,” I believe it by faith. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and dying for my sins.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Read the following verses in the Bible to see the miracles Jesus performed:

Matthew 14: 15- 21 ____________________________________________________________

Mark 3: 1-5 __________________________________________________________________

John 11: 14, 38-44 _____________________________________________________________

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The Spanish Riding School has a long-standing tradition to have at least one bay Lipizzan stallion in the stables, continued through the present day.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).


Christmas is right around the corner. Do you need some safe but exciting books for kids?


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:


(Revelation 19:16 NKJV)

(Check out photos of the Hackney at

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).





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