Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Abaco Barb

 During the time of the Spanish exploration of the New World, many Caribbean islands were used for the sole purpose of breeding cavalry, work, and saddle horses. Some researchers believe that not all of horses made it to the chosen destinations and were shipwrecked on the island of Abaco, located in the Bahamas, while others think that horses were taken there by a Cuban logging company in the late 1800s and later abandoned for some reason or another. Either way, the horses have remained there for perhaps over a century, untainted by human influence.

 Throughout the centuries, they have adapted well to the climate, finding both protection and forage in lush pine forests. With no natural predators, they multiplied almost exponentially and began to thrive, becoming a large herd, probably 200 hundred strong, that roamed pine forests and beaches, the sea wind in their face. They were free. Yet all that changed during the twentieth century. People began settling on Great Abaco, the main island of the group, and took advantage all natural resources. That included the feral equines.

 During the '60s, a road, stretching from one end of Abaco to the other, was made. Often, people would chase horses down the road until it collapsed from exhaustion or was roped by a man waiting at the side of the road. Legends about the horses and there tragic endings began to arise.

  Things became even worse for the horses when a young child climbed upon the back of one of the horses, getting killed as the equine bolted in fright. A bloodbath followed. Villagers, angry at the death of the child, slaughtered over a hundred horses, leaving only three horses, which were taken to a cattle farm by other residents, alive. once their numbers increased to 12, they were released. Thirty years later, in 1992, their numbers increased to a small band of thirty-five horses. But that didn't last. By '97, the number soon plummeted to seventeen, with many dying from pesticides, lack of medical attention, and mortal wounds inflicted by both humans and dogs alike.

 After hurricane Floyd, the horses returned to the farm. Yet something was not right. Four years passed, and not a single horse was born. One organization---Wild Horses of Abaco Preservation Society(WHOA)---has been working hard since 1992 to save the rare, endangered breed by publicizing their dilemma. In 2004, WHOA brought the remaining horses to Treasure Cay, Abaco, where a large piece of land given to them by the Bahamian Government was used as a sanctuary. Today, only five horses remain, and there have been no reproductions since 1998. WHOA plans on sending the horses to a University in the US to see why they are not reproducing. For the time being, WHOA runs on private donations, yet it is running out of funds.
Abaco Barbs are the world's most endangered breed.

 In 2002, scientists tested the DNA, finding that the native horses were related to the original stock of Barbs brought to America from the Barbary coast.  The breed was therefore named "Abaco Barb" and was added to the Horses of the Americas registry.

 Abaco Barbs stand 13.2 to 14.2 hands high, and are small, sturdy, and compact with strong legs and white patches underneath their bodies. Their hooves were once tough, yet pesticide have weakened them. Because they have had so long to adapt, they are nimble, surefooted, and have a lot of endurance.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Chincoteague Pony

 Out in the ocean near the Chesapeake Bay lies two islands: the Assateague Island and the Chincoteague Island. Horses are believed to have roamed there since the 1700s, living off seaweed and cordgrass---forage that any domesticated would absolutely refuse to eat. Consequently, the ponies are very adapted to harsh environments, like theirs, and any who are not would not survive.

 No one knows for sure how the horses came to the Assateague. Some say that the swam to shore from a sinking Spanish ship; others claim the they are related to the Pottock Pony and were brought to the island as as pack horses during the 16th and 17th century. The most likely conclusion is that Virginians who settled the Chincoteague Island let the horses run free on the neighboring island. When they thought the horses were old enough for work, they would gather the ponies, brand them, break them, and set them to work. By the 18th century, this became  a regular annual event.

 It was only during the 1800s, however, that the roundup became popular among all the residents, becoming a festival that they anticipated all year round, and eventually turning into a tourist attraction, which brought in lots of money for local businesses. The Pony Penning Days, held the last Wednesday and Thursday of July, were officially started in 1909.

 During the 1920s, when two destructive struck the islands, the citizens founded the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. However, they needed a way to keep the department afloat financially, so the Pony Penning Day festival soon became a money grab, and they were able to use the money raised to purchase equipment. From then on, they became in charge of the overseeing of the herd and its penning.

 At the time the fire fighters had taken control of the penning, the Assateague Island(where the ponies lived) had been sold to a private citizen, so the celebration was moved to the Chincoteague. In 1925, the islanders decided that they would swim the ponies across the channel between to islands. Fourteen years later, they fire department released twenty Mustangs onto the herd's island to create genetic diversity, and then some Arabians a year later. The US Government purchased the Assateague Island in 1943, turning into a national park.

During the pony penning festival, the ponies are
herded from their home at Assateague and across
the channel between the two islands. Then, many
are separated and sold at the fair. credit
 Due to the influx of both Arabian and Mustang blood, Chincoteagues are genetically diverse, with some looking like and Arabian with a dished profile, others a Mustang with a broad forehead. Generally, they are stocky, compact, and sturdy, standing from 2 to 14.2 hands high. They come in every coat color available.

 Almost every horse-crazy boy and girl has read Misty of Chincoteague(who hasn't?), a classic novel by Marguerite Henry that describes in detail life on Chincoteague, particularly the Pony Penning aspect.  The picture above actually comes from the movie version.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Standardbred

 North America's earliest harness racers were the Narragansett Pacer and the Canadian Pacer. The Thoroughbred was crossed with the Canadian Pacer, as well as Morgans, Norfolk Trotters, and Hackneys, creating the Standardbred, which today is known for its distinct racing gaits.

Back in the eighteenth century, trotting races were done under saddle in simple fields. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, farmers began to take the trotting races seriously, and they ungraded to doing them on racetracks with their horses pulling small carts, called sulkies. At the same time, a trotting legend, Mambrino, lived in England.

 In 1788, Mambrino's son, a grey Thoroughbred stallion by the name Messenger, was sent from England to Henry Astor in America.  He proved an excellent sire, producing fast trotters and racehorses with great leg action and heart for the next 20 years. In fact, he is the noted ancestor of many of America's greatest racehorses from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, including the legendary Man o' War. Every Standardbred is somehow related the the amazing Messenger.  

 One of his greatest descendants was his great-grandson, Hambletonian, the son of a crippled bay mare and an ungainly, belligerent stallion name Abdullah. Hambletonian was sold as a castoff after his birth in upstate New York in 1849. He shocked everyone when he became one of the fastest trotters of all time, producing equally talented offspring.

 Standardbreds are a picture of strength and beauty. Standing 14.2 to 16 hands high, they are slightly shorter than their cousins the Thoroughbreds. Even so, they have the same long legs, powerful build, muscular shoulders and hindquarters, and long, sturdy backs. Their profile is straight, sometimes even squarish. Most often, they come in bay or brown, but some are strawberry roan, chestnut, or grey.

 Racing Standardbreds are recognized by their two unique gaits: the trot and the pace. The pace, a lateral gait, consists of moving the two legs on the same side in unison. The trot is similar, except the legs move in diagonal pairs. Standardbreds are trained to trot in their unique way using hobbles the make the legs move in unison.

Standardbreds in a trotting race.

 Standardbreds are the fastest trotting horses in the world, and have improved upon many other trotting breeds. Today, most trotters can trace their lineage back to Hambletonian, the remarkable son of Abdullah. 

 Standardbreds were first called by that name in 1879. At that time, the harness racers had to trot a mile within a standard time of two minutes and thirty seconds in order to be registered, and were consequently dubbed Standardbreds. Today, Standardbreds can race a mile in as little as one minute and fifty seconds.

 Standardbreds are not only used as racehorses. Much like Thoroughbreds, they are often faced with the plight of early retirement, and can be used as pleasure horses for years after retirement. The can also be used in disciplines other than racing.

 Fun fact: Marguerite Henry writes Born to Trot, a book about a kid dreaming that his Standardbred filly would some day become an excellent trotter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Norwegian Fjord

 Norway is a mountainous country with fjords---narrow inlets of see surrounded by steep mountains---stretching inwards for miles. During the time when Vikings travelled the seas, conquering many parts of Scandinavia, there were no roads in Norway. The only form of transportation was by sailing on boats through the fjords. As the farmers settled the hills, they domesticated the small dun horses native to the area, using them as draft horses to perform farm work.

 The breed, named after the fjords in the area's landscape, is thought have existed in wild herds after the after the last ice age, up until it was domesticated by Vikings 4,000 years ago. Archeological excavations have shown that the breed had been selectively bred by Vikings for approximately 2,000 years after they had been domesticated.

  Fjords have developed powerful hindquarters, strength enough to transport a 200 pound man, or even  a cart, up steep, sinuous mountains, and sure-footedness from spending several millennia wandering about steep, precarious mountains. They have smooth gaits high knee action.

Some Fjords, mainly the heavier ones, are used to pull carts.
Others make better eventing horses. credit
 One unique characteristic is that 90% of Fjords are brown dun, while the other 10% are either a red dun, whitish dun, grey dun(grulla), or yellow dun, a rare variation.  Some Fjords even have primitive markings, which may include zebra stripes on the legs or a dorsal strip down the spine.

 However, the breeds's most distinctive feature is their mane---black in the center, white on the outside. Fjord aficionados cut the breed's coarse manes into to crescent shapes, trimming the outer white part half an inch shorter than the inner part, clearly emphasizing the black hairs.

 Other characteristics include small, alert ears; large, intelligent eyes; a broad forehead and slightly dished profile; strong, crested neck; short-coupled body; and well-developed muscles. The legs are powerful with a good bone and hardy black hooves. Although they are not considered ponies, the can range any between 13.2 and 14.2 hands heigh, weighing 900 to 1,200 pounds once matured.

 Fjords are calm and curious, with charming, gentle natures. Males display strong, masculine traits and females soft, feminine traits.

 Fjords are very diverse, coming in different body types due to the fact that the usage of the breed changed with the times. Consequently, they can be doing a variety of activities and disciplines, with heavier types being more suited for cart-pulling and lighter types excelling at jumping, eventing, dressage, reining, and many other disciplines.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Irish Draught Horse

 During the early 1900s, Irish farmers needed a strong, versatile horse lighter than the common draft horse that could plow fields during the week, leap gracefully over obstacles in a fox hunt on Saturdays, and still take the family to church on Sunday morning. With the help of Ireland's Department of Agriculture, quality stallions were selected to be bred with each farmer's stock. Those stallions are considered the breeds foundation stock, and only foals with at least one foundation stallion in its pedigree would be registered. In 1978, the Irish Horse Board closed the registry book to any new stallion bloodlines, only registering pureblood offspring of existing registered horses. All of the registered horses became a breed known as the Irish Draught(pronounced "draft) Horse, "draught" being the Irish word for "draft."

 Later, crossing the Irish Draught Horse with Thoroughbreds to create a sporty horse with the Draught's soundness and unflappable nature came into fashion. This breed came to be known as the Irish Sport Horse, or the Irish Hunter. Soon, however, Draught mares were no longer producing purebred foals, and the breed's survival became at risk.

Irish Draught Horses are powerful horses with strong legs
and pleasant faces. credit
Since then, many people and groups  have done all they can to encourage people to breed pureblood Irish Draughts. In 1993, the Irish Draught Horse Society of North America(IDHSNA) was created to preserve the purebred Irish Draught Horse. Furthermore, Horse Sport Ireland operates a scheme called Irish Draught Rare Bloodline, encouraging people to maintain genetic diversity within the breed, as well as breeding their best stallions to purebred mares. In recent years, due to the strong efforts of these many groups, the number of purebred Irish Draught foals has increased.

 Like most any breed, Draughts have breed standards. They should have a pleasant face with bold, wide-set eyes, a broad forehead, and plenty of room at the throat. Their their neck should be held high, withers well-defined. The forearms should be long and muscular, the knees large, and the cannons short and straight; the bone should be clean and flat, not coarse and round. The pasterns must be be strong and the hooves solid. Their backs are required to be powerful and their girth deep. Mares should have plenty of room to carry a foal. Everything from the croup to the buttocks must be rounded, not flat-topped, and the hips shouldn't be very wide and plain. The thighs are strong and powerful. The hocks are near the ground and should be in line with the hindquarters, the heel, and the ground. All in all, the Irish Draught shouldn't be weak or bent over in any way, but strong and standing tall.

 The average height for a Irish Draught is 15.1 to 16.3 hands high. Often, they come in a solid color with white markings, although socks that are above the knees or hocks are not desirable.

 Because of their smooth, eye-catching, ground-covering stride and powerful haunches, they make excellent jumpers and hunters.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Gypsy Vanner Horse

 Gypsies love color and elegance, and wanted a flashy horse that resembled a small Shire with a more feather and a sweeter head. After the second World War, they set to work to create the desired breed, selectively breeding horses that included Shire, Clydesdale, Dale Pony, and Friesian blood in their veins. Sonny Mays, one of the foundation stallions, produced many pinto patterned horses, which were uncommon in the United Kingdom just after World War II. Gypsies say that he is responsible for most colored horses on the UK today. Black horses, namely Friesians, also played a major role in creating the breed, resulting in many black and white foals.

Gypsy Vanners are rather small horses, coming complete with long manes,
tails, and feathering. credit
The magical-looking breed remained hidden from most of the world until 1992, when two Americans---Dennis and Cindy Thomson---discovered one standing in a field on a trip to Europe. The two American's curiosity was piqued. Later, they were invited by the owner of the stallion to attend Appleby, a ten day Gypsy horse fair. Over the next ten days, they took note of every Gypsy breeding and selling Gypsy Vanners, keeping their contact information for later reference. As days past, their curiosity for the small caravan horse blossomed into a passion.

 On November 24, 1996, after years of painstaking research, the couple founded the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. From then on, interest in the breed only grew. Today there are 3,036 registered horses.

 Standing only 13.2 to 15.2 hands high, Vanners resemble small Shires, with rounded hindquarters; short, sturdy necks; and long feathering starting at the knee, which not only looks beautiful but also serves the purpose of protecting the legs from the elements. Their manes and tails are long, flowing.

 Gypsy Vanners were originally used as caravan horses, so they move in a fast, snappy trot. Their canter is graceful and bounding.

 Vanners usually come into pinto patterns, such as piebald, which is black and white; skewbald, a mixture of of brown, red, and white; and blagdon, any solid color with splashes of white underneath. very rarely, a Vanner will come out with out any spots at all. 

 Vanners are very versatile creatures. They will do anything for their master, including carriage driving, combined driving, pleasure riding, trail riding, hunting, and jumping. Because they are intelligent, affectionate, and calm, they make excellent therapy horses.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bashkir Curly Horse

 In 1898, a father and son found a small herd of three curly-coated horses living in the foothills of a mountain range in Nevada. They brought them home and began breeding them.

 Where the breed came from is a mystery. Some believe that early settlers, maybe even Russians or Vikings, brought the breed to America in the 1800s, naming it after an ancient Russian breed from the Bashkortostan region. Still, many people disagree with this theory, arguing that the curly-coated Russian breed was not the Bashkir, but the Lokai.

This breed's most distinctive trait is its curly coat.
 Although its history and origins are yet unknown, people have come up with various theories. Some people say that the Curlies traveled across the Bering Strait during the last ice age. Others believe that Russians took them to Alaska. Still, their is no evidence to support either of these theories, and the second one has actually been disproved by a man named Shan Thomas, who had researched the possibility extensively. He had discovered that there was no mention of importing horses in Russian ship logs. Even if Bashkir horses were imported, it would have been impossible for them to make the perilous 3,000 mile journey through bitter cold blizzards and blistering deserts, all the way from Alaska to Nevada.

 Sightings of Curly Horses in South America have been reported as early as the late 1700s. This means that Curlies, or horses with the same gene, could have been brought to the continent long before the 1800s.

 In a Serology Lab in UC-Davis, people have done blood tests on 200 random Bashkir Curlies, finding that none of them displayed similar blood characteristics, as animals of the same breed would. In fact, each had blood characteristics of various different breeds, so each Curly was different with different breeds in its bloodline. This means that Curly Horses aren't a genetically distinct breed, but a type!

 Along those same lines, when a Curly Horse is bred to a horse without a curly coat, there is a 50% chance that their offspring would bear a curly coat.

 Curlies are born with hundreds of type curls all over their body. They are hardy horses, able to endure all kinds of harsh climates, and are bulky and round, usually standing from 14.2 to 15.1 hands high.

 Because Curlies are sure-footed, and agile, they make excellent trail, gymkhana, and western horses. They are also found in the dressage arena.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cleveland Bay

 The Cleveland Bay, which is the United Kingdom's oldest breed, developed in the Yorkshire and Cleveland areas of northeast England. Although most of the breeds that went into it are unknown, we do know that the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb appear somewhere along the line. Other types of Barbs, imported into the Port of Whitby in Yorkshire during medieval times, may also have played a role in creating the Cleveland Bay.

 The Cleveland Bay, called the Chapman Horse in medieval times, was once used as a pack horse for monasteries and peddlers. Later, as roads became better and more suited for wagons, they were used as coach horses, and then Thoroughbred blood was added to create a faster horse. Because of that, the breed split into two breeds: the Yorkshire Coach Horse, which continued to be used to pull coaches, and the Cleveland Bay, a similar version with the added Thoroughbred blood.

Cleveland Bays come in two body types: a strong, tall type resembling
the Yorkshire Coach Horse, and a slightly smaller, slender type, which is a result of the added Thoroughbred blood.
 Cleveland Bays were imported to the United States as a coach horse in the mid 1800s, and later as a foundation horse for hunters in 1930. During World War II, population of Cleveland Bays in the UK plunged, with many dying in battle as they worked as supply and artillery horses.

 By 1950, only five stallions remained, and the Queen of England, among other avid breeders, have since worked hard to save the breed from extinction. Today, only 500 Cleveland Bays are registered worldwide, with 200 of them in North America alone.

 Cleveland Bays are elegant, athletic horses. Some of them move in graceful, sweeping motion, while others have a more upright stride. They are hardy horses, easy keepers, and stand from 16 to 16.2 hands high. Just like Friesians are black 99% of the time, Cleveland bays are dark bay, probably because the original herd of horses was all ark bay, and were bred until the color was fixed. However, there are rare genetic throwbacks when a foal comes out to be chestnut instead of bay.

 The Cleveland Bay is intelligent with a strong character. They are bold and honest. Because of their good temperament, they make excellent police horses.

 Because of their endurance, quickness, and versatility, Cleveland Bays excel in many disciplines, including jumping, hunting, dressage, eventing and trail riding. They are also good carriage horses. In fact, pairs of Cleveland Bays have been seen in FEI driving trials over the years.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The American Paint Horse

  In 1519, Spanish explorer Hermando Cortes began exploring Central America, bringing with him horses with pinto patterns, many of which were stolen, bartered for, or even abandoned.

 By the early 19th century, many feral horses, including ones with large colored patches on them, roamed the Plains. Native Americans loved the pinto colors, and were often found riding them across the Plains. The best horsemen on the Plains, though, were the Comanche, who owned large herds of pintos, which were also known as paints, piebalds, and skewbalds.

 Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the American Quarter Horse Association banned paints and other horses with white above the knees from its stud book. In efforts to preserve the beautiful color pattern, pinto aficionados formed many organizations with the sole purpose of promoting their horses, including the Pinto Horse Association in the 1950s. Later, those organizations merged into one and became the American Paint Stock Horse Association. Members not only strove to preserve the unique color pattern, but also the stock horse-type conformation.

 Founder Rebecca Lockhart had spent hours calling friends, including E. J. Hudspeth, Truman Moody, and Charlie Moore, three men from Gainesville, Texas who were interested in promoting the breed.

 They began by hosting a show at Waurika, Oklahoma. Afterward, they spoke to the Southwestern Exhibition and the Fat Stock Show organizers, and finally were able to get an open color class approved for a show in 1961.

 On February 16, 1961, Rebecca became the secretary of the American Paint Stock Horse Association. By the end of 1962, there were 150 members and 250 registered horses.

 In 1963, executive secretary Ralph Morrison took Rebecca's place as the secretary. That same yea, the Association moved to Amarillo, Texas and had its first show in the Aufil Sports Arena, in Lubbock, Texas.

 By the end of 1964 for, 1,269 horses were registered and there were 1,005 members.

At the same time, the American Paint Quarter Horse Association was formed, although it never took off, so it merged with the American Paint Stock Horse Association. In 1965, after quite some debating, the association became the American Paint Horse Association. It had 1,300 members and 3,800 registered horses.

 The American Paint is somewhat stocky, like Quarter Horses and other stock horses. They range from 14.2 hands high to 16.2 hands high. Although most Paints are pinto patterned, some, called breeding stock paints, are not. The rest are divided into two main coat patterns: tobiano and overo.

 Tobiano pintos have colored patches along their back and on their head. Often, their legs are white.
Splashed white overos, like the one above,
rarely have any color on them, except for on the back.

 Overos usually do not have white on their backs, although they will have large patches of white on their faces. Their are three types of overo: frame overo, which means that a frame of colored markings is around the white markings; sabino, meaning that roan hairs surround the colored patches and white hair usually covers the entire face; and last but not least, splashed white horses have blue eyes, long white socks, white bellies, and white or blazed faces.
This tovero has a war bonnet on his face and a shield on his chest.

 A third rare color, known as tovero, is a combination of the two main color types. Toveros are usually all white, except for one the head and neck. Native Americans gave this characteristic the name medicine hat and war bonnet, and this pattern was prized by chiefs and medicine men. Colored patterns on the chest is called a shield.

Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Twelve Plants NOT to Have in Your Pasture

 No matter what part of the country you live in, there will always be poisonous plants to watch out for---blue bonnets in the South and oleanders in the West, to name a few. Because they can be potentially dangerous to your horse, make sure to rid your pasture and the surrounding area of any of the plants i will mention below. Also make sure to contact your local U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office for more extensive list of poisonous plants near you.
Bracken Fern(Pteridum aquilinum): Bracken fern is a two to three feet tall perennial fern with triangular leaves. It is seen throughout the country, except in dry deserts, and can be found woodlands; wet, open fields; and any other moist climate. When eaten, it can cause depression, loss of coordination, blindness, and other neural dysfunctions. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse has eaten a bracken fern. For the next two weeks or so, your vet will administer large doses of thiamin to your horse.

Hemlock(Conium maculatum): Hemlock is another perennial plant. Growing to be up to six feet tall, this parsley-like plant looks similar to Queen Anne's lace, except for the fact that it has purple spots near the base of the stem. It is seen all around the country, usually near roadsides or in open areas. Symptoms of eating hemlock usually appear within an hour of eating it. The horse may appear nervous, colicky, and trembly, and may lose coordination, breathe heavily, and his heart may slow. There is no cure. Death often occurs from failure in the respiratory system. If the horse consumed only a little, the veterinarian may be able to help. 

(Sudan grass is similar to
Johnsongrass and Sudan Grass(Sorghum halepense and Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii): Johnsongrass and Sudan grass are often seen along roadsides in the South, as well as in open areas.  They are tall, coarse grasses with large, veined leaves and multi-branched seed heads. Symptoms include: fast respiration, tremors, and constant urination or defecation. drugs can slow these effects. 

Locoweed(Astragalus spp. or Oxytropis spp.): Locoweed is a short, leafy plant with white or purple flowers, and grows in small tufts throughout the deserts in the West and Southwest. It causes a horse to act very oddly. Severity of symptoms depend on how much was consumed, and may include raising its legs high, staggering, and nodding its head. The symptoms are permanent. 

Milkweed(Asclepias spp.): Milkweed, the Monarch butterfly's primary food source, is toxic to all equines. It is found in both dry and swampy areas in the United States. When cut or broken, it secretes a milky substance(thus its name). All parts of this plant, including the narrow leafs(broad in  some cases) and the fruit, a silky pouch filled with seeds, are poisonous. A horse that has consumed milkweed will lose of coordination, salivate, have seizures, and even become colicky. If not treated with gastrointestinal detoxification and the treatment for heart arrhythmias immediately, the horse could die within two days. 


Oleander(Nerium oleander): Oleander is a tall, evergreen shrub with large clusters of white, pink, or red flowers, and is popular in hot, arid climates, particularly the West. Symptoms, with occur shortly after ingestion. They may include colic, respiratory distress,  an irregular heart, and a pulse that is either very slow or very fast. Early treatment and veterinarian care is paramount. Activated charcoal can be used to slow the toxins, and drugs are used to stabilize the heart. 

Red Maple
Red Maple Tree(Acer rubrum): Red maple trees, a common type tree found all over North America, has green leaves that turn scarlet in the fall. Symptoms can appear in a few days or even a few hours. They include: lethargy, refusal of food, red or black urine, pale yellow or dark brown mucus membranes, dehydration, and rapid heartbeat. The veterinarian will give the affected horse lots of IV fluids, an amy even give it a blood transfusion. If care was prompt a very little leaves were eaten, the horse will most likely recover. 

Russian Knapweed

Russian Knapweed and Yellow Star Thistle(Acroptilon repens and Centauria solstitialis): Yellow star thistle has round yellow flowers in between sharp spines. Russian knapweed is similar, except 
Yellow Star Thistle
the flowers are purple or white and there are no spines. Both grow along roadsides, in fields, and in pastures throughout the West(every state from Missouri to California). Symptoms, which are permanent, include inability to chew properly and clenched facial muscles. 

      Tansy Ragwort(Senecio spp.): Tansy ragwort, a biennial weed, looks like little rosettes the first year adn progress to multi-stemmed flowers the second. Their flows are flat and daisy-like. One-hundred-twleve species exist in the United States, but fortunately only seven are poisonous to 
Tansy Ragwort
livestock. They appear along roadsides and in pastures. Symptoms are hard to see until signs of liver failure begin to appear. There is no cure. 

Yew(Taxus spp.): Yew, an evergreen shrub, has flat, needle-like leaves and red or yellow berries with a black seed on the end. Sometimes yew trimmings are thrown into pastures. Symptoms include trembling and rapid heart rate. There is know treatment, and sudden death is not uncommon.

This post has been linked to the HomeAcre Hop.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rocky Mountain Horse

 Around 1890 a dark, chocolate colored colt with a flaxen mane and tail born in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States was brought to the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky. Locals referred to him as "the Rocky mountain Horse." When he was older, he was bred to many native saddle horses, all of which produced beautiful foals bearing his unique colors. They also inherited his wonderful temperament and a superior, one-of-a-kind four-beat gait.

  Almost everyone in eastern Kentucky, where the breed originated, owned a Rocky Mountain Horse, which was really an all-around jack-of-all-trades kind of a horse. The families in that area were by no means rich, and used horses as work animals. Farmers put them to work pulling plows during the week and used them to pull a buggy to take the entire family to church on Sundays. Because they had to work hard all day, every day, they became a tough, versatile breed with a lot of stamina.

  Life in that area was not easy for the Rockies. Winters were harsh and forage was scarce, so they had to survive eating bark off trees, like deer. They never received special care like the pampered Thoroughbreds rich Kentuckians owned, and as a result, only the strongest, toughest horses survived to produce the next generation of survivors. The rest were culled out. It may sound like a rough life, and it was, but it actually benefitted the breed. Since only the strongest horses survived, only qualities from those horses were passed on. That's what people living in that area wanted: to create a strong horse with a lot of stamina---one that could work all week and still take the family to town on the weekends.

 A man named Sam Tuttle was a notable breeder of Rocky Mountain Horses for the better part of the twentieth century. His greatest stallion was Tobe, and people can from all over the country to breed their horses to him, even when tractors started coming into to use.

 In the early '60s, Sam used his horses for trail riding services in Natural Bridge State Park, Powell County, Kentucky. Most often, he would ride Tobe, but sometimes he let other people ride the special stallion, which had surprisingly good manners for a breeding stallion.

 Tobe was used for breeding until he was thirty-four, and died three years later. Over the years, he had passed on many good traits to his offspring and all of his descendants, including good temperament, fine gaits, and longevity.

Several decades later, in the '80s, a genetic researcher began studying the special breed. Over the years, since the breed had had little influence from the world outside of the county they had originated in, the bloodlines remained pure, and the horse developed both an distinct way of walking and a unique appearance.

Rocky Mountain Horses, or Rockies as they are commonly called,
are are usually a dark chocolate-like chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
 Rockies have a straight profiles, complete with a friendly, expressive look in the eyes. They stand from 14.2 to 16 hands high and have a broad chest, slanting shoulders, a compact body, and a upright carriage; the latter probably an indication of their Spanish ancestors, most likely the Iberian horses. Rockies are usually a rich dark chestnut with flaxen manes and tails.

 Their special four-beat gait, called the single foot, is similar to the rack and can performed a various speeds. Each foot hits the ground independently

 Today, Rocky Mountain Horses are used for many different disciplines, including pleasure, endurance riding, and trail riding due to their sure-footedness. Sometimes, they are even used for competitive trail riding, a sport where horse and rider pairs are to ride of natural trails, maneuvering any obstacle they encounter along the way. At the end, the horses are evaluated on how well they performed and how good their manners, condition, soundness, and trail ability are. The riders are judged on how good their horsemanship and equitation is.

Check out the breed's official page: Rocky Mountain Horse Association

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Palouse Horse

 In the early nineteenth century, Danes began to selectively breed horses with small, round spots, a breed later known as the Knabstrupper. Other such horses were bred in Austria, too. It is likely that explorers of the New World took the forebears these special horses with them on their journey.  However, many escaped or were stolen by Native American tribes, who loved the horses spotted patterns. 

 The Nez Perce people, who lived in the area now called Oregon and Washington, were proficient horsemen, and adeptly bred their horses, only bringing out the desirable traits. Years of selective breeding produced a rugged horse with robust hooves, strong legs, sparse tails that would not catch on any brush while the horse rambled about the wilderness, and camouflage spots that were coveted by every tribe. Over the years, the number of spotted horses raised dramatically.
This Appaloosa has the coat pattern known as leopard.
The German word for this coat translates as "spotted tiger."

 Then, in the early 1800s, pioneers trekking west noticed the spotted horses, referring to them as "Palouse" horses, after a river that ran through the area. In 1877, the U.S. Cavalry killed the Palouse horses after the Nez Perce had waged war on the U.S. Government for taking their land away.  Some of the horses escaped, and settlers took them, breeding them with heavy Spanish horses to produce a horse that could work on farms and ranches.

 Later, an "a" was added to the beginning of the name and the spelling changed a little(pronunciation remained the same). By 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club was founded, and members endeavored to refine to the breed, which was then a stocky draft-type, with Arabian and Quarter Horse blood. Since then, their numbers have increased.

This Appaloosa, named Go Skippa Rock, has a dusting of white,
as if snow had lightly fallen on him. This pattern is known as snowflake.
A third coat pattern(above) is called blanket.
It may cover only the hindquarters, like the one above,
or it may stretch all the way the withers.
Some blankets, called snowcaps, do not have spots on them.
Marble coats, like the one above, is really no different than
a regular roan coat. credit
 Two basic types of Appaloosas exist: a bulky type, which most resembles the draft one used for farm work, and a muscular one with upright carriage.  Appaloosas are usually 14.2 to 16 hands high, and have a small, well-formed face and pointed ears(most like from the Arabian blood), with white sclera rings around the eye. They have sloped shoulders and are deep-chested. Another attribute is the mottled skin around the muzzle.
This foal is almost leopard colored, except for the fact that
that he has some brown on the knees, hocks, and face.
Some consider this to be a different color, known as near-leopard.
(click here if you are interested in seeing more coats)
 Of course, their trademark is their coat pattern. Several exist, including the snowflake, which is any solid color with a light powdering of white; blanket, which is a solid color that has a patch of white on the hindquarters, sometimes with colored spots inside of it; and leopard, a pattern with spots all over the body. Another pattern is a roan Appaloosa, with dark stripes, known as varnish, along the cheekbones.

 Appaloosas can be used in many disciplines, including combined driving, dressage, show jumping, endurance racing, and any western event. Also, on the West Coast, Appaloosas pound rapidly down racetracks, just like Thoroughbreds commonly do.

 Check out the breed's official webpage! Appaloosa Horse Club