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

“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:

(SIDEBAR 1:)

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

(SIDEBAR 2:)

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).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Morgan – A Firm Foundation

 Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Have you ever read Marguerite Henry’s book with that title about the man whose horse started the Morgan breed?

The Morgan: A Firm Foundation

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 3:11)

(Check the website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_horse to see a picture of the Morgan)

             Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Have you ever read Marguerite Henry’s book with that title about the man whose horse started the Morgan breed?

Here’s another horse breed named after a person. The Morgan is one of the earliest breeds developed in the United States. It’s believed that Figure, the name of the very first Morgan horse, was owned by school teacher Justin Morgan, who lived in West Springfield, Massachusetts in the late 1700s. Someone gave the beautiful, little stallion to Justin for payment of a debt.

When Justin decided to enter Figure in a race, the man soon discovered his new horse could beat all others in any race. Justin had no idea what breeds comprised the lineage of Figure, but some folks assumed the horse had Dutch Friesian, Arabian, and Thoroughbred in him.

The importance of the Morgan horse in the history and development of many other breeds in America cannot be overemphasized. When Justin started to breed Figure, a line of excellent carriage horses, plow horses, and Pony Express mounts developed. All through the 1800s, Morgans also served as coach horses, for harness racing, and for trail riding. They also served as cavalry horses for the North and the South during the American Civil War, as mounts for pioneers going west, and for miners in the Gold Rush in California in the mid-1800s.

If you study the lineage of other major American breeds including the American Quarter Horse, Standardbred, The Missouri Fox Trotter, and Tennessee Walking Horse, you’ll find that the Morgan played a major role. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, Morgans found their way into other countries, including England, where a Morgan stallion became one of the foundation sires of the Hackney.

The Morgan is a handsome yet strong and muscular horse with a gorgeous thick, arched neck. He stands between 14.1 and 15.2 hands and comes in most colors including palomino and even some pinto, although multi-colored ones are rare. His popularity over the last two centuries centers on the strong foundation the first Morgan built, which led to a breed with many skills. Today he’s shown in all kinds of English and western shows, including western pleasure, dressage, show jumping, and endurance riding. He can be seen in driving competitions, including combined driving, carriage driving, and trail riding.

But there’s more! Because of their gentle nature and steady gaits, Morgans are often safe mounts for kids in 4-H and Pony Clubs.  They’re also safe therapeutic animals due to their calm disposition and easy strides. Morgans are certainly versatile…and popular. They’re so popular that two states, Vermont and Massachusetts, have made the Morgan their state animal.

Although Figure had a reputation as an excellent breeding stallion, there are records for only six of his male offspring, and only three of those were known as foundation sires for the breed. However, the breed is so popular, Morgan-only shows are held throughout the U.S. In 1973, the first annual Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show opened in Detroit, Michigan. In 1975 that national show moved to its present home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Over 1,000 horses compete in that show every year!

You might have noticed the word “foundation” reoccurring as we learned about the Morgan breed. A foundation is a solid base or structure on which other things are built.

Figure became the “foundation sire” for an entire breed. Thousands of other horses have their roots in that amazing horse. But do you know we as humans have a firm foundation in someone? That someone is the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith.

When Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for our sins, He made it clear He was the foundation of our Christian faith. Without His sacrifice of blood on the cross and His resurrection, we wouldn’t have anything to base our beliefs on.

Sadly, many people around the world base their faith on false gods made of wood and stone that can’t hear, speak, or answer prayer. But we have a living God, who answers prayer and gives us peace in our hearts that we’ll have a home in heaven with Him someday.

If you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you have the best foundation you could ever have. With the Bible as your “behavior guide” and God’s promise of heaven someday, there’s no reason to ever doubt the salvation Jesus has given to you.

PRAYER: Dear God, I thank Jesus for being my Savior and being the foundation of my faith. I can always trust in Him and His Word, the Bible. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Have you ever asked Jesus to become the foundation in your life? Just ask him to save you and He will!

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Figure lived until 1821 when, sadly, he was kicked by another horse and later died from his injuries. He was buried in Tunbridge, Vermont.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands” (Psalm 102: 25).

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

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

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

“…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).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Icelandic – A National Treasure!

Can you guess where the Icelandic horse has his roots? If you said Iceland, you are correct. Do you know where Iceland is?

The Icelandic Horse: A National Treasure!

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power

 may be of God, and not of us.”

 (2 Corinthians 4:7)

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

Can you guess where the Icelandic horse has his roots? If you said Iceland, you are correct. Do you know where Iceland is?

Iceland is a small, island (considered a country of Europe) not too far from Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean where the weather can be frigid and downright nasty. Despite the climate, Icelandic horses are easy to keep and very hardy, and the bitter cold temperatures don’t bother him at all. The reason? They have a double coat for extra insulation.

The Icelandic horse’s beginnings date back to the 9th and 10th Centuries when Norsemen (Scandinavian Vikings) settled on Iceland and brought their ponies with them. If you check the Icelandic historical records and literature, you’ll find the breed mentioned often, the first reference as early as the 12th Century.  Because the Norse settlers honored their horses and brought their Norse mythology and traditions with them, the Icelanders of today have their “very own horse,” which they consider a treasure.

Although the Icelandic has the characteristics and height of a pony, the cute little guy is considered a horse.  Several theories have emerged as to why Icelandics are always called horses, among them the breed’s spirited temperament and friendly personality. Although they only weigh between 730 and 840 pounds and stand at 13 to 14 hands, breed registries always refer to Icelandics as horses. They also have heavier bones and are able to carry tremendous weights, which suggest a “horse” classification.

A very unique trait of the Icelandic is his amazing coat colors. The breed comes in all different shades, over 100 in all, including dun, bay, black, gray, palomino, pinto and roan. Along with the variety of colors, the Icelandic adds to his attractive looks with a full mane and flowing tail.  Another unique trait the Icelandic has is two extra gaits in addition to the walk, trot, and canter that other breeds all have. Thus, he’s often called a “five-gaited horse.”

Although the Icelandic is the only horse on Iceland, he’s also popular in many countries in Europe and North America. One reason is that in 1904, Icelandic enthusiasts created the first breed society for the Icelandic horse. Today the breed is represented by Icelandic organizations in 19 different nations, organized by the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations.

Another reason for his popularity is his long life. An Icelandic mare in Denmark reached a record age of 56. Another one in Great Britain lived 42 years. The breed’s long years can partially be due to the lack of exposure to diseases from other horses in Iceland. Icelandic law prevents equines from coming into the country, and exported ones can’t return.

Although the Icelandics are not usually ridden until they’re four years old and they don’t reach full maturity until age seven, the people of Iceland love them and are proud of them for several reasons. Because Iceland is so remote, the horses have remained a pure breed, unchanged for over 1,000 years. The horses aren’t easily spooked, probably because they have no natural predators. They’re friendly and calm, although they’re also spunky and confident. The people have also used them for all kinds of tasks, including sheep herding, pleasure riding, racing, and showing. It’s very easy to understand why the people consider their little horse a national treasure.

I’m sure you know a treasure is something extremely valuable. Some people, like archeologists, search the world over for treasures from past civilizations. However, Christians have a treasure that’s far more valuable than any ancient relic like gold or precious jewels.

The Bible tells us when we accept Jesus as our Savior, God gives us power to live for Him. The power comes from the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us.  If we want to please God, the Holy Spirit helps us to do our best. That power is the treasure to help us live for Jesus.

The Bible also tells us about another kind of treasure, the kind that we have in our possession. Whether you’re rich or poor, there are some things you own that you might consider your “treasure.” It might be money. Maybe it’s a collection of model cars. Maybe it’s your computer or smart phone. A personal treasure can be anything of value to that person. According to the Bible, whatever treasure you focus on and spend a lot of time on, that’s where your heart will be, as well.

Have you ever thought that God…or your Bible could be a treasure? If you value them more than anything you own, then your heart’s in the right place.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for the treasure of the Bible and You in my life. I pray that I can always focus my heart on You as my most valuable treasure.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of the name of any possessions you have that you consider “treasures.”  Then decide if you love those things more than God.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  In the 1780s, many of the Icelandic Horses died following a volcanic eruption at Laki in southeast Iceland, mostly by eating fluorine-contaminated grass or by starving.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).

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