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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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:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.”

(Revelation 19:16 NKJV)

(Check out photos of the Hackney at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackney_horse)

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).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

THERE ARE OVER 300!!!! I ONLY SHARED ABOUT 60 IN MY NEW BOOK….

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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 Gypsy Vanner – The Horse with Many Names

Gypsy Vanner Horses have gained popularity with horse lovers worldwide only recently. But what is a Gypsy Vanner?

The Gypsy Vanner: The Horse with Many Names

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

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”

(Philippians 2:9-10)

Gypsy Vanner Horses have gained popularity with horse lovers worldwide only recently. However, the Romani people (nomads) of Great Britain have known of this breed since the mid- 19th Century.  In fact, those travelers were instrumental in developing this special horse over the next fifty years. Through the crossbreeding of Dales Ponies (known as strong draft pullers), Fell Ponies, Shires, and Clydesdales, the short but stocky and powerful Gypsy horse emerged. The wandering groups finally had the perfect horse to pull their vardoes, also known as caravans (little houses on wheels).

A Gypsy Horse received special training to pull a vardo. Going up a steep hill, he had to learn to keep pulling the vardo until he reached the pinnacle; otherwise, because of the weight of the vardo, the horse might not have been able to get started again. During training, an old hat was sometimes placed on a frightened horse’s head. That kept him from seeing backward over the top of his blinders at the wagon looming at his back and spooking him. Because the horse was so essential to the travelers, he was considered part of the family and interacted with even the children. Thus, only those Gypsies with calm temperaments became vardo horses.

The Gypsy has the body type of much larger draft horses with heavy bones and broad backs, but most of the breed only stands at 14 to 15 hands. He comes in all brown and black colors and all combinations of pinto. A major feature making the Gypsy so handsome is the long-flowing mane, tail, and impressive feathers on every leg from the hock down. Besides his amazing appearance, the Gypsy is friendly and willing to learn.

Gypsies are now being used in all kinds of events. They pull carts and carriages, perform in dressage and show jumping, and they’ve become popular western pleasure horses. Because of his sweet nature, he’s also a wonderful family horse and is a great trail horse or therapy equine. In the U. S., the Gypsy horse is used in many equestrian sports and does quite well in combined driving and dressage. In 2001, a pair of Gypsies became grand champs in tandem driving team competition (one horse directly in back of the first horse, not side by side).

More interesting than the Gypsy Vanner’s roots is the long list of names this horse has been given: Colored Cob, Gypsy Cob, Irish Cob, Tinker Horse, Tinker Pony, Gypsy Horse, and, of course, the Gypsy Vanner. How in the world did this little horse get so many different names?

Founded in 1998, 2002, and 2003, three different groups of horse lovers, the Irish Cob Society, the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association, and the Gypsy Cob Society of America all decided to refer to the breed as “Cob,” the name they believed the Romani breeders used.

Gypsies are also called “Tinker Horses” or “Tinker Ponies.” Those names originated with breed associations in the countries of Belgium, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where the Gypsies are listed in the Universal Equine Life Number database under the Tinker breed name.

In 2008, the newly incorporated Gypsy Horse Registry of America used the name “Gypsy Horse.” However, this organization states that it recognizes all breed names in use today.

So how did the breed assume the most popular name, Gypsy Vanner?

As early as 1888, the term “vanner,” had referred to a type of horse rather than to a certain breed. Since Gypsies originated as horses used for pulling vardoes or caraVANs, the name “Vanner” became associated with the breed.

In 1996, Gypsies made their way to the United States thanks to horse enthusiasts, Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who weren’t sure the breed had a proper name. They had read about the name “Vanner” being added to the horse’s name in other countries, liked the name, and founded the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society that same year.

While the Gypsy Vanner has seven different names, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ has many more?  The Bible tells us that Jesus has over a hundred different names, and every name exalts Him as the only true God and Savior.

Have you ever heard Jesus called “The Great Creator” or “The Good Shepherd”? How about “The Prince of Peace” or “The Son of God”? These are just a few of Jesus’ many names, all displaying His wisdom, power, and love for us.

Do you have a favorite name for Jesus? No matter which name you choose as your favorite, always remember one of the most important names, “Savior,” the one that offers eternal life to those who truly believe.

PRAYER: Dear God, I realize that the names Jesus has all point to how great and wonderful He is. Thank you most of all, Jesus, for being my Savior.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Read these verses in the Bible and find the names given to Jesus:

Isaiah 7:14;   Hebrews 12:2;   Revelation 1:8

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Training a Gypsy to pull a vardo began at a very early age with the colt or filly tied with a short rope to the collar of the pulling horse then led along that horse’s side.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”  (Isaiah 9:6).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Friesian – Majestic!

When a black Friesian prances by in a parade, you can’t help but admire how “majestic” he is. But what is a Friesian?

The Friesian: Majestic!

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

“His glory is great in Your salvation; honor and majesty You have placed upon him.”

(Psalm 21:5 NKJV)

Have you’ve noticed how many horses are named after places where they were first found? Friesians, sometimes called “Belgian Blacks,” fit into this category. Considered one of the oldest breeds in Europe, the Friesian originated in Friesland, a province in northwest Netherlands. Although he has the strong build of a draft horse and looks like he’d only be used for pulling a plow, he’s graceful and nimble. When he prances by in a parade, people can’t help but admire how majestic he is.

As majestic as the Friesian appears to be now, it’s believed that during the Middle Ages (the 5th to the 15th Centuries), his ancestors were used as war horses. The Friesians’ husky size and strength enabled them to carry knights in heavy armor. During the 16th and 17th Centuries heavy war horses were no longer needed, so Andalusians were crossbred with Friesians to produce a lighter horse for driving carriages.

Over the next 300 years, interest in the breed dropped, and Friesians nearly became extinct. Sadly, at the turn of the 20th Century, there were only three purebred stallions left. The breed struggled to survive, and then, contrary to so many other horses that declined during World War II, the Friesians made a strong comeback. Dutch farmers used them for transportation and farming due to fuel shortages.

Despite the Friesian’s shaky roots, he’s growing in numbers and popularity and performs in all kinds of harness and under saddle competition. Most recently, he’s also making a strong showing in dressage events.

The most unusual fact about the Friesians is they must be black to be registered. However, their colors can also be black/bay, dark brown, and chestnut is sometimes allowed for mares and geldings. If there’s any white at all on a Friesian, it can only be a small star on his forehead.

The Friesian stands at 14.2 to 17 hands. He has a beautiful arched neck and a muscular body with strong, sloping hindquarters. He has a long, thick mane and tail, which are often wavy, and his feet are feathered. He’s known for a brisk, high-stepping trot. Although he’s very energetic, he’s also gentle and trains well.

Friesians come with two different body types—baroque (bah·roke), which has the more solid build of the first Friesians, and the finer-boned sport horse. Although both types are common, the sport horse has become more popular in the show ring.

Because of their gorgeous black coat, flowing mane and tail, arched neck, and high step, Friesians appear in many movies and TV shows, especially in fantasies. They remain calm and perform beautifully when being filmed, and they are stunning in their appearance. A Friesian tends to have great presence and to carry himself with royal elegance. Whether he’s driving a fancy carriage or prancing under saddle, he can only be defined as majestic.

Anyone or anything that is “majestic” has a quality of dignity, beauty, and grandeur. The word “majesty” refers to someone who has great power or a high position. Have you ever heard someone call a king or queen “your majesty”?

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Supreme Authority of the entire universe and heavens, and we should worship Him as the most powerful ruler of all. Someday King Jesus is coming back to earth on a white horse, and every Christian will have the privilege of bowing in person before Him and addressing Him as “Your Majesty.” I can’t wait for that time to come.

How about you? Is the Majestic God of the Universe the King of your life?

PRAYER: Dear God, I want You to be the ruler of my life. I pray I’ll be a loyal servant, willing to do whatever You ask of me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Read Revelation 19:11-16 and find four titles of royalty Jesus Christ is called in those verses:

Take your ride: (Do you know?)   Some Friesian events feature the horse driving a sjee, a cart with only two, but very large, wheels.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:25).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

THERE ARE OVER 300!!!! I ONLY SHARED ABOUT 60 IN MY NEW BOOK….

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Falabella – A Carbon Copy

Have you ever seen a horse about the size of a Great Dane? The Falabella is one of the smallest horse breeds in the world.

The Falabella: A Carbon Copy

FalabellaFestivo.jpg

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

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us ….”

(Ephesians 5: 1-2a NIRV)

Have you ever seen a horse about the size of a Great Dane? The Falabella is one of the smallest breeds in the world, averaging seven or eight hands. (Remember a hand is about four inches). The average Falabella is shorter than a yardstick. Because of his size, many people think he’s a pony, but he’s a miniature horse. A carbon copy of the bigger guys!

The Falabella’s roots take him back to Andalusians and Iberian horses in Argentina, South America. In 1868, Patrick Newtall started a breeding program including local Criollo horses known for their stamina. When Newtall died, his son-in-law, Juan Falabella, added the bloodlines of Welsh Ponies, Shetland Ponies, and small Thoroughbreds. Thus, a consistently small horse named the “Falabella” emerged over the next century.

In 1940, Julio C. Falabella, a descendent of Juan, founded the Falabella Horse Breeders Association to preserve the breed. At first, he set the horse’s height standard to no more than ten hands, but later other breeders set today’s standard of about seven to eight hands.

By the early 1950s, horse lovers all over the world became interested in the fascinating little horse. The Falabella gained popularity with not only horse breeders but with royalty and celebrities, as well. These first miniatures arrived in the United States in 1962 when a winery in Etiwanda, California, purchased 12 stallions to drive small stagecoaches in parades. Most of the Falabella miniatures in the U.S. today came from those 12 horses.

Although the Falabellas are the size of ponies, the similarity ends there. Their body shape, sleek coat, and slim frame are very much like Thoroughbreds or Arabs. Falabellas have sturdy bones and a thick mane and tail. Their colors can be black, brown, bay, pinto, and palomino. Strangely, though, there are no Appaloosa-colored Falabellas.

If you think a full-grown Falabella is tiny, a foal is even smaller. If you measure something 24 inches high, you’ll see how little the Falabellas are when they’re born. As small as they are, it takes three years for them to mature.

You might wonder what anyone would do with horses so small. Because Falabellas have a calm, sweet temperament and train easily, they can be ridden by very young children.  But the Falabellas have many other jobs, and they do them well!  They drive carts, and some folks enter the little horses in shows.  In recent years, Falabellas have worked jobs that have won the hearts of young and old alike. One of the horse’s most valuable uses is being guide animals for special needs folks. Falabellas can also be trained as service animals, visiting children in hospitals or the elderly in senior centers.

No matter where the Falabellas live, even in extreme hot or cold, they thrive as much as their taller counterparts. What the big guys can do, the little horses can do, and just as well. You might say these miniatures are carbon copies of the bigger breeds.

A “carbon copy” is something or someone similar or almost identical to another. Has anyone ever said you’re a carbon copy of your mother or father? That means you look just like one of them.

The Bible tells us we should strive to be carbon copies or imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ too. That means as we Christians grow in our faith and love for God, we’ll become more like Jesus in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Have you ever thought you might be considered a carbon copy of Jesus? As you do your best to follow God and please Him, wouldn’t it be great if those around you would think you were a carbon copy of Jesus? If you strive to love others as Jesus loves us, then it might just be the case.

PRAYER: Dear God, I would love to be a carbon copy of my Savior Jesus Christ. Help me to live every day to please Him.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of two things Jesus did when He was on earth that showed how much He loved others. Decide how you can show that same love to others.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Since 1999, the Guide Horse Foundation has worked to provide miniature horses to the blind in rural areas.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing ….” (John 14:12a NIRV)

 

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

THERE ARE OVER 300!!!! I ONLY SHARED ABOUT 60 IN MY NEW BOOK….

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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).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Belgian – a Determined Hard Worker

It’s believed Belgians may have originated as warhorses that carried knights with their heavy armor in the Middle Ages, although no evidence has proven that to be true.

The Belgian: A Determined Hard Worker

Belgians.jpg

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

 (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

Would you like to take a guess which country the Belgian Draft Horse came from?

If you said Belgium, you are absolutely correct.

It’s believed Belgians may have originated as warhorses that carried knights with their heavy armor in the Middle Ages, although no evidence has proven that to be true. The Belgians are among the ancient breeds of Europe that contributed to the development of many other draft breeds. Whatever the case, their history goes back several hundreds of years.

After 1887, the breed found its way to America and became a very popular farm horse because of his size and strength. Until the 1940s, the Belgian and the Brabant, another big workhorse, were considered the same breed. But following World War II, the Brabant in Europe was bred to have a thicker, heavier body, while in the United States the Belgian breeders developed a somewhat taller horse with a lighter body. In fact, today the Belgian is the most numerous draft horse in the U.S.

The build of the Belgian shouts the word “power!” His head is square with either a straight or slightly concave profile. His short neck is muscular, and he has a wide back with a short body and deep girth. The strong legs are lean, allowing him to have a good gait. God made the Belgian perfect for lots of action and for draft work that uses every muscle in his gigantic frame.

The Belgian horse is considered by many horse enthusiasts to be the strongest and most powerful of all the draft horse breeds in the world. However, other equine lovers believe the Shire should hold that title. As of yet, no one has been able to make an “official” declaration because both breeds have very impressive statistics. So, the debate goes on.

But there’s no debate about the awe and majesty of the Belgian breed. Talk about a big beauty! This horse stands between 16.2 and 17 hands. Then there’s Big Jake, the tallest Belgian, born in 2000, that stands at 20.2 ¾ hands.  On average, the Belgian grows to weigh slightly over 2,000 pounds. Yet, the heaviest Belgian, named Brooklyn Supreme, weighed 3,200 pounds and stood at 19.2 hands! You’d need a ladder to get on these big fellas!

Most Belgians are a light chestnut, but they can be solid roan, chestnut, bay or black with a flaxen mane and tail and light to medium feathered (long, usually white hair) feet. Regardless of the color, they are a stunning presence when pulling a fancy wagon in a parade. But they’re probably best known for their participation in draft competitions, mostly at fairs, where a team of two muscular Belgians pull with all their might to drag tremendous weights.

It’s in the record books that at one of the National Western Stock Shows in Denver, Colorado, a team of two Belgians weighing only 4,800 pounds pulled 17,000 pounds a distance of 7 feet 2 inches.  And at an Iowa State fair, the heavyweight champs in the pulling contest pulled 14,600 pounds a distance of 15 feet. The team consisted of one Belgian and one Percheron weighing just 3,600 pounds together.

Despite Belgians’ amazing strength, they’re also well known for their kindness and easy-going manner. In fact, they take the bit and bridle as easy as though eating a juicy apple. They seem to have one goal while working so hard.  As determined as they are to win, they want to please even more.

How determined are you to work hard for the Lord Jesus? Do you strive to please Him in everything you do, or do you think you might have a lazy streak that tempts you to do the least amount of work you’re asked to do?

God’s Word has much to say about the way Christians should do their jobs, whether they are at home, at school, or helping others. The Bible says that everything we do, hard work or not, we’re to do it first for the Lord then for our parents or others who’ve asked us to do something for them.

So, when you’re asked to “pull a heavy load,” that means to do a job you think you can’t do (or don’t want to do), remember the determined Belgian, and work as hard you can for God, no matter what you’re asked to do. The Lord will be very pleased.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be a determined hard worker. I want to please you in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Maybe you think your homework or the little jobs you do around the house aren’t very important. But any task you do is important if you do it for Him. Think of a few chores you’re asked to do regularly and how you might be able to do those jobs better.

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Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The “dynamometer” is a machine created to test the greatest pulling power of horse teams in pulling competitions at fairs and horse shows.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “We work hard with our own hands…” (1 Corinthians 4:12a, NIRV).

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Take a ride with Skye and her beautiful horse, Champ, on exciting adventures

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