Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morgan Memories

Atakapa Beautee

Most of you probably think of me as an Appaloosa fan. Although I consider myself a horse fan in general, of course, I love, and obviously own, an Appy. I owned a part Appaloosa pony as a teen, and my sister always had Appy's, too. However, back in the day, even before Appy's, I was a big fan of Morgan horses.

Maggie

I have mentioned it in one of my first few posts that I learned to ride on a Morgan mare. She belonged to our neighbor, who gave horseback riding lessons. This woman had gotten the mare as a yearling when she herself was a teen. She raised and trained her herself.

The mare's name was Maggie. She was an old-style Morgan, barely gracing 14.2 hands, very typey, small head and ears and thick neck. She was a golden blood bay shadowed with dark dapples when she shed out in the spring. Her black mane and tail were thick and wavy, and she was built like a sausage. I kid you not. She had no flank indentations at all. Her back was so wide, it was nearly impossible to fall off (we mostly rode her hunt seat.) I suppose this is why she made such a good lesson horse?


WP Winora Knight

My sister and I saved up our allowance and scrape our coins together for riding lessons on Maggie. The neighbor had a small arena with a white-washed fence. Maggie was always tolerable. She was a bit stubborn, for sure, but never did anything dangerous with us.

Kiva Cinnabar

The neighbor dreamed of breeding Maggie, and eventually did. I remember visiting a stable with her to look at a local Morgan stallion that she had chosen as a potential sire. The old man who owned him brought the nearly black-bay out of the barn. The stallion promptly snorted, arched his neck, and pranced around the corral like stallions do. Maggie's owner called out in awe, "Morgan!" He was a nice stallion. I had not seen many stallions in my life at that time, and he was pretty flashy. Maggie was soon in foal and gave birth to a rambunctious bay colt named Robin.

Rum Brook Immortal

I was obsessed with Morgans for many years. Maggie's owner had issues of The Morgan Horse magazine around her house, and I would always borrow and pour over each page of every issue.

I should clarify that I gravitated, and still do, towards the old-style, or foundation bred Morgans (one particular line is known as the Lippitt line.) These horses are more "true" in type. In the Morgan world, after the 1930's, Saddlebreds were often found in the bloodlines of many Morgans, creating a more refined and showy horse for events such as saddle seat and driving. Many modern day Morgans posses more of that "Saddlebred" look. I have nothing against Saddlebreds, but I like Saddlebreds to look like Saddlebreds and my Morgans to look like Morgans of days gone by.



Last summer at a schooling show, My Boy's former owner, a young trainer who now rides and trains at a well-respected Arabian facility, made an interesting comment. We were watching a chestnut horse warm up for a western pleasure class, and discovered that it was a Morgan. The trainer commented,"Oh, that's a Morgan? I thought that was just a really well-bred Arab."


I don't know who this is, just a pretty Morgan head!

It doesn't seem like any breed of horse can escape the controversy that seems to follow it's fans, breeders, exhibitors, and owners. For example, the Appaloosa industry deals with the criticism of Appy's becoming nothing but "spotted Quarter Horses." Ironically, the QH influence is blamed for a lack of color on many of the registered horses. Although many believe the Quarter Horse cross breeding has vastly improved the breed, there are many people out there that specifically breed the original, uncrossed Appaloosa bloodlines, regardless if such horses are born with sparse manes and tails. The Paint industry, although booming in recent years, has also struggled internally with what to do with it's SPB's (Solid Paint Breds, or breeding stock.)

Here are some interesting stats.

Number of horses registered in the following breed associations for 2006:

AQHA (Quarter Horses) : 165,114

APHA (Paints) : 39,357

AHA (Arabians) : 7,003

ApHC (Appaloosas) : 6,749

AMHA (Morgans) 3,461

Some of these breeds do have other registries as well, so these are not completely accurate as to total registered horses in and outside of the U.S. But both Appy and Morgan numbers are not looking so good in comparison to the others. That figures though, as I always seem to root for the underdogs!

My mom's gelding, Dusty, is said to be of Morgan breeding, more specifically, a Morgan/Quarter Horse cross. We don't know for sure and have no way finding out as he was a rescue in his past, so little information was passed on. However, I think his typey head, intelligence, and personality lends itself to Morgan breeding. Actually, I think the Morgan/Quarter horse makes a decent crossbred, as does the Arabian/Quarter horse. But I am getting off subject here, which goodness, I do so well!

As a young teen, I dreamed of breeding Morgans when I "grew up." I think I even had farm names picked out. Later, in my late teens, I had a friend that showed Quarter Horses and she converted me. However, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Morgans and would love to own one someday. Thank you little Maggie May, for teaching me not only about horses and how to ride, but also about the marvelous Morgan!

All photos, except for the one of Maggie and of my Mom's gelding, are of Morgan horses that I liked the "look" of. I have added their names in case anyone wanted to look them up for more information.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Weekend in Pictures

I had such a lovely weekend with My Boy. The weather was nearly perfect, so I spent both days with my horse.

I am trying a new tactic. Once My Boy is haltered and out of the pasture, he gets his grain (supplement.) Since I do not feed him, I can't do this every day, but my hope is that it will make him a little more dependent on me.

I thought my horse would be up for bucking and running antics once we got to the arena, since he'd been mostly cooped up in a paddock for two weeks. But he was happy just walking and jogging circles.

Oh, do you like my new muck boots? The ones I was borrowing from Paint Girl were too big and I had to wear 3 pairs of socks with them. These look a bit clunky, but are much more comfortable!

Yikes, My Boy, where is your head?!

Whew, there it is. Buried in what is left of the green grass, of course!

Nope, you are not experiencing double vision. That is my silly boy double-haltered. The breakaway one is underneath and once I had him haltered, I was too lazy to slip it off. I know, isn't it mildly tacky? Get it? Tacky?? You know, horses, tack.....oh, never mind!

I had to move several of these teddy bear caterpillars out of My Boy's path as he grazed. They were crawling everywhere on the grass. Do you know what they do when you pick them up?

Oh no Pony Girl, you're putting me back into this little paddock again?

Yep, Saturday it was back in the little paddock until Sunday, the day of the big release! Besides, I know My Boy was going to really miss being pastured next to the mares. Paint Girl shot this undercover picture of them all canoodling last week!
On Sunday, this is what My Boy thought about being worked two days in a row. Uh, hello mom, I'm, like, totally recovering from a pretty traumatic hoof abscess here? Like, maybe another month off would be more appropriate?

After Sunday's mild workout, I took My Boy back to his own pasture. The first thing he did was drink water from his trough.

A-Ha Pony Girl! I'm back in the big pasture! It was so easy for you to catch me in that little paddock.....we'll see if you can catch me now!

What's the second thing my spotted pill did after being put back in his regular pasture?

Head for the closest patch of green grass!

Then he walked way out to the back to make sure his favorite dirt pit was still there.
Then, his nose led him to the fresh sweet smell of new shavings in his run-in shed.
I had a hunch of what was going to happen next, so I quickly turned on the video recorder and this is what I caught:

video

Ya think My Boy was happy to be back home?? No more hoof boots and small paddocks! Knock on wood! Although, the breakaway halter is staying on for another week or two while I work on dropping his head for haltering. I don't have a clicker yet, but over the weekend I reinforced this with treats on the ground after he held his head down for haltering, and already I see an improvement.

By the way, I caught Morgan in the hay shed again. This time, instead of being stretched out ten times her size, she was modeling what those teddy bear caterpillars do when you pick them up.


Notice any similarities?Hope you all had a great weekend yourselves!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photo Caption Winners!

It was hard to judge the photo caption contest! It took me all weekend! I loved everyone's humorous entries, you really showed that you know my stinker boy so well! C-ingspots had me humming the Monkey's tune every time I read through them! But after much deliberation.....congratulations, Julie in Alaska! I chose Julie's "horsey psychobabble" entry. I thought this seemed a perfect fit for this pony girl, as I have a psychology degree and tend to have an over analytical approach to horse ownership. Goodness, yes, I think that I am the one that needs to get out of my head and just be a fun-loving horse owner again!



Here's the winning caption:

I've found myself more and more reflective, even introspective, lately.

What a minute, what am I saying? What am I thinking?

I need to get out of my head more and just enjoy being me -- a horse! Just stayed focused on the moment, Spot!

Realizing that not everyone might celebrate Christmas or does a tree, I opted for a wall hanging as the winning prize over a tree ornament. This antiqued wooden "Cowgirl" sign with a braided leather strap was too cute to pass up, and would look great in the tack room or the office. Of course, I bought one for myself, too! Julie, send me an email at ponygirlridesagain@gmail.com so that I can get your mailing information!
Now, a special announcement, I have a runner up, in the 8 and under division! My 8 year old second cousin Hailey had a very creative entry:
Ooh, here comes my special rider that gives me everything.

What, you're not going to play with me. I'm gonna go country style on you!

I mean it. Play with me!

I loved her phrase "go country style on you!" I see a future cowgirl blogger in the making! Miss Hailey, I have a special prize for you, too! I will get it in the mail this week. I also have a huge stack of horse magazines to bring your way when I come to visit the family in November. You're never too young to start pouring over the pages of horsey magazines and start dreaming!

Thanks for playing, everyone. I hope to have another contest again soon!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Boot Got the Boot

My Boy got his boot off for good and his horseshoe back on. He appears to be back to normal and I think he's tired of being cooped up and is feeling frisky.
The area of hoof around his old nail holes had chipped a bit, both in part to the moisture from soaking and just general moisture due to weather. This has happened to him before. It's unfortunate because the farrier could barely get a nail in that part of his hoof. I hope the shoe stays on.

Despite all of the hard work, the abscess was fairly easy to treat, thanks to my cooperative horse! Today I am heading up to check him out, clean out his paddock, and take him to the arena for a light workout to assess his movement. I imagine he will have a hard time holding in his energy! If all seems back to normal, I will move him back to his pasture.

The sun has set on the abscess adventure!

I am going to keep the breakaway halter on him for a while longer. It does go against my better judgement for safety reasons, but it helps as a training tool while we practice haltering. It doesn't mean catching will be any easier, back in the large pasture he can still get away from me. But it's much easier to get a lead rope on a halter that is already on my horse, then lead him to a place where I can halter him (over the breakaway.) The breakaway allows me to "hold" him from pulling back while haltering him. Well, he still pulls back, but, he can't escape. I think a few weeks of this, and he will realize he can't "get away." This is a bit of a safety "catch 22." It's unsafe to leave a halter on a pastured horse, but it is equally unsafe to have a horse you can't catch in case of an emergency. If my horse were to seriously injure himself, such as a gaping, bleeding wound that required immediate attention, someone other than myself might have to catch him, and quickly. One might think an injured horse would be in pain and not try to escape. Not necessarily, as he proved the weekend of his tender abscess, when the vet arrived and he was still outrunning me in the pasture.

I now know that I can deal with an abscess. I am sure it is not the last of them, considering Paint Girl and I have now dealt with two in the last 4 months!

The photo caption contest is over, thank you to those of you who entered! I will be reviewing the entries and deciding a winner. Monday night I will post the winner and photos of their prize!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prairie Ghosts

I've been ghosted by Trail Riding Cowgirl! What a fun online version of this game. The children at school play it. They leave a treat bag on a friend's porch, ring the bell, and run away!

I do not have a good ghost story of my own. But I found a Native American one to share.

"The White Horse"

A Canadian Folktale

There was once a Cree chief who had a very beautiful daughter. This daughter was sought after by many brave warriors.
In particular, there were two suitors who led the rivalry for her hand. One was a Cree chief from Lake Winnipegosis. The other was a Sioux chief from Devil's Lake. The girl herself favored the Cree warrior. This Cree warrior brought a beautiful white horse from Mexico as a gift for her father. This convinced the girl's father this was the man his daughter was to marry.

However, the Sioux chief was enraged by the rejection of his suit. How dare the young woman choose the Cree warrior over himself! The day of the wedding, he gathered a war-party and thundered across the plains toward the home of the beautiful maiden. The Cree chief saw the approaching attack and to protect his bride-to-be, he tossed her on top of a white horse. (Pony Girl's side note: I am pretty sure this white horse was an Appaloosa, as it appeared to have striped hooves, mottling on it's muzzle, and a single chestnut spot!) Once his bride was safely aboard the white stallion, he leapt upon his own gray steed. In a flurry of dust, the couple fled to the west with the rejected Sioux and his war-party on their heels.

Now, this Cree chief was canny and knew the land and he doubled back several times. He and his bride were able to hide among the prairie bluffs. It seemed as if they had lost the band of angered Sioux. But once they were on the open plains again, the beautiful white horse was visible from many miles away, and the war party soon found them. Arrows rained down upon the fleeing lovers, and the warrior and his bride fell dead from their mounts. The Sioux was able to capture the gray steed. But the white horse, strong and quick, evaded them. One man claimed he saw the spirit of the slain young bride enter into the shadows of the horse just before it fled from their clutches.
This white horse roamed the prairies for many years following the death of the Cree warrior and his bride. The inhabitants feared to approach the horse, since the spirit of the maiden dwelled within it. Long after its physical body passed away, the soul of the white horse continued to gallop across the plains on the land where it roamed. This land became known as the White Horse Plain. Legend says that the soul of the white horse continues to haunt the prairie to this very day.
A statue of the white horse was erected at St. Francois Xavier on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg, to remind all who see it of the phantom white horse and the beautiful maiden who once rode it.

Now, I get to ghost three more bloggers! SO, "BOO" to my My cousin K over at Saddle Mountain Rider, Chelsi over at Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind, and my Australian Friend Bush Babe. All three of these ladies are fabulous story tellers and photographers so I know they will have some spooktacular tales to share!

Here are the rules:
1) Have a Ghostly Image to pass along

2) Tag three people on your blog, with links to their blogs. Tell about what great folks they are, or offer to send them a Ghostly Treat.

3) Include a link to Ghosting It Forward in your blog.
Don't forget the photo caption contest! You have until Friday night to get your entry in!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Savor the Season

Sunday was a lovely fall day. The trees were brilliant in their Autumn glory.

The sky was a sapphire blue, dotted with clouds of cotton fluff.
The cornfield at the farm store was nothing but scattered crunchy stalks, a sign of a successful harvest.

It was the kind of day where you might need a fleece jacket in you were if the shade. Yet toasty and warm in the golden sunshine. It seemed the type of day where one feels invigorated and inspired and eager to get a few things done before the wet winter rains chase us indoors.

Or so you'd think.

Around the farm, all furry critters had other ideas of what to do on such an afternoon.

Morgan the tabby cat found her place in the hay shed, against a warm plywood wall.
She appeared to not be quite comfortable enough, and stretched out in an attempt to soak up every last ray.

Still not quite comfortable. One more stretch...... "MORGAN- SQUIRREL!!" (This usually works. Not today.)

Ah yes, perhaps now I have it right....

Even the mares get in on the- uh, lack of, action. .

Every little patch of sunlight becomes a mini heavenly place.

Even boot boy is caught in the act!

Boooooot boooooy?? Carrrootttts!!?

Furry critters! Don't you know there is work to be done? Paddocks to pick? Hooves to soak? Bridle paths to clip? Lawns to mow? Troughs to scrub?

Huh? Chores? OVERRATED!

Thank you, Morgan, for that very important reminder.

Don't forget to stop and enjoy the season's sunshine, everyone.

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