Sunday, March 17, 2013

#5 - Pinto the Blogdog - The Horses!

     HOWDY folks!  Pinto the Blogdog here.  It's been a busy week, we're getting the pasture ready for irrigating and the yards cleaned up.  The horses, though, have no idea that there's so much going on.  All they do is eat and doze, eat and doze, eat some more and then it's bedtime.  They're really big animals, and their brains, I think, are smaller than mine, which makes for a very dangerous combination if you're a herding dog like me.  I like to nip at their heels, and have to move quick to stay out of their way.  Since they're part of the program here though, I'd better tell you about them.
     First of all, even though they're ancient old dames, these are fancy horses.

Merrygold, stylin' in her new Christmas blanket
     Merrygold is M'Lady's good horse.  She was born on April Fool's Day (no surprise there) in 1986, which would make her 27 years old.  Now, counting on my fingers, (no wait, I don't have fingers - counting on my PAWS), she is really, really old, about 95 human years.  But, she's sassy!  That ole' nag runs, kicks up her heels, and farts all at the same time!   It's hilarious, and great entertainment for TheFam!  Whenever I come around her, she pins her ears back!  Mean!  But Merrygold doesn't really kick, no sir, and she doesn't buck nor rear, she's a real lady, that horse is.   When she was younger, she had 3 foals for M'Lady, so she has a big, fat belly.  Oh, and she eats all the time.  M'Lady still rides her some, but for much shorter rides than in the olden days.

M'Lady on Merrygold and
FarmGirl on Roxie
M'Lady and Merrygold on a spring mountain ride.
I took the picture.  :)
     Roxie belongs to FarmGirl, and is almost 31 years old, but you'd never know it.    She's HUGE, 16 hands* tall, and is lanky like a racehorse!  And,  she's really pushy.  I mean, for such an old dame, she sure has an attitude and acts like a teenager.  For example, when it's dinner time, and M'Lady is getting her hay for her, she paws and paws the ground, tossing her head, as if to say, ""Hurry up!"  And whoever taught her as a youngster didn't teach her ground manners, she'll walk right over you if you aren't careful.   But she wouldn't hurt a flea, and is a good riding horse, safe and experienced!

     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.

     Roxie is a registered Missouri Foxtrotter, obviously originating in Missouri.  The Foxtrotter was bred for the same traits as the Walker, to take a person comfortably for a long distance in a shorter time.  They have the same three basic gaits, and also have a "foxtrot" gait.  This is where they walk with their front legs, but trot with their rear legs.  It is very smooth and very fast.  You'd think that, because Roxie is so much bigger than Merrygold she would go faster, but she doesn't, they travel at about the same pace.

     Oh, and helmets?  Of course they wear helmets, are you kidding me?

     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.

     Keep your tail waggin'!          
* "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.  :)

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