First of all, even though they're ancient old dames, these are fancy horses.
|Merrygold, stylin' in her new Christmas blanket|
|M'Lady on Merrygold and|
FarmGirl on Roxie
|M'Lady and Merrygold on a spring mountain ride.|
I took the picture. :)
Merrygold is a registered Tennessee Walking Horse. Walking Horses originated during the slavery days in the south. The plantation overseers would have to ride many miles each day, checking the thousands of acres of fields. Regular horses have only 3 gaits - walk (slow), trot (faster, but very uncomfortable for the rider and tiring for the horse), and canter or lope (fast, but tiring for the horse and rider). So, the only way to travel all day was either at a walk or a slow trot. This wore the rider out, because trotting jars the rider's bones. Somebody along the way bred horses to travel faster and more comfortably, and they came up with these wonderful Walking Horses. They have an extra gait, called a "running walk." It's a 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 beat, with only 1 hoof on the ground at a time, and the horse can walk faster than a trot all day long (5-7 mph). The rider never gets worn out, and he's able to get where he needs to go! People who used Walking Horses in those days were traveling salesmen, doctors and itinerant ministers - anyone who needed to ride long distances.
So, that's it for the horses. They're not good for much of anything. Oh, well, I guess M'Lady uses them when she's checking the cattle up at the ranch. Huh. I guess they are good for something more than pasture ornaments.
* "hand" is the term used for measuring the height of a horse, and represents the width of a man's hand. There are 4" to a hand, and horses average around 15 - 15.2 hands. If you hear that a horse is 15.1 hands, then it's 15 hands plus 1 inch, or 61" tall. The measurement is taken at the horse's wither - the high point of the shoulder. So, if Roxie is 16 hands, it's 5'4" at the shoulder, which is a tall horse. :)