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

“…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).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Missouri Fox Trotter – Dependable

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride

The Missouri Fox Trotter: Dependable

(To see a picture of this horse, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Fox_Trotter )

“Thy word is true from the beginning.”

(Psalm 119:160a)

When farmers, plantation owners, and ranchers started settling our newly formed United States, they looked for a hardy, muscular horse that could do ranch work yet take the family members on a dependable trail ride. So in the early 1800s, the settlers of the Ozarks in Missouri developed a sure-footed horse that could perform work including working cattle, plowing fields, and hauling logs. But that same horse had to serve as the family’s fancy buggy and riding horse in the evening’s activities.

The Missouri Fox Trotter, developed from horses from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, filled that need to the “T.”  Crossbreeding with Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, Morgans, American Saddlebreds, and Standardbreds made the Trotter smoother and stronger. This versatile equine, able to travel great distances at a comfortable five- to-eight miles an hour, made the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, traveling preacher, and rancher. In just a short time, the gaited Trotter gained notoriety for his stamina and smooth gaits.

In 1948, Trotter enthusiasts founded the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) in Ava, Missouri with an open stud book that registered all horses with the fox trot gait and other specified physical characteristics describing the horse. Interest around the world grew, and the first Fox Trotters were exported to Europe in the 1950s when the Queen of England imported several palomino Trotters. The breed’s popularity increased to the point that Missouri Fox Trotters are now seen throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and several European countries. As of 2012 the MFTHBA had registered over 97,000 horses with over 8,000 members. It’s no surprise that the state of Missouri thinks highly of this unique equine. He’s so special that in 2002, the state honored the Missouri Fox Trotter by naming him the official state horse of Missouri.

Missouri Fox Trotters come in all colors, including spotted and buckskin. You’ll often see them with white facial and leg markings. They’re muscular and have sloped shoulders, a short back, and sturdy legs. They stand at 14 to 16 hands and weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds.

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride. He’s most known today for his ambling gait, the “fox trot,” a four-beat smooth gait in which the front foot of the diagonal pair lands before the hind pair. He’s in demand for use in all kinds of show classes including pleasure, trail riding, endurance, and cross country. Because of his surefootedness and endurance in rough countryside, he’s used by hunters and National Forestry Service rangers. You can often spot him in movies because of his gentle nature and willingness to work. Handicapped riding programs also use him because his smooth gait has proven to be beneficial for riders with minor physical disabilities. Wow! Would you agree “dependable” describes the Missouri Fox Trotter better than any other word?

Are you “dependable” like the Missouri Fox Trotter? If you’re dependable, you can be trusted to complete tasks you’re asked to do. Would your parent or teacher say you are dependable, or do you forget to do jobs you’re asked to do? A Christian should be dependable because the God we love and serve is dependable.

The Bible tells us that we can depend on Jesus to be our Savior. He shed His blood and died on the cross to save anyone who believes in Him. The Bible is also dependable. Every word of it is true, which tells us about our wonderful God and the home in heaven we’ll have one day. We have a God on whom we can depend.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being the God I can depend on. I also thank you for the Bible that tells me that believing in Jesus as my Savior makes me ready for heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some responsibilities your parent or teacher might want you to do. Then decide to be dependable and finish the tasks on time.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Fox Trotters were the first horses to carry riders down the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

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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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