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The Horse Lover's Blog

Mysteries of Type and Blood

Looking at my two classically bred Morgan mares out eating their hay this morning, I admired for the umpteenth time Robin's beautiful long legs. She is a fourteen-two hand mare with a round barrel--I won't reveal what the weight tape said about her poundage. Let's just say she has well-sprung ribs!
Her elbow isabout level with my waist. The elbow of her companion, the fifteen-hand Woodgate Martha V, comes only up to my hip.
This evening I got out the weight tape to confirm this measurement. Indeed, there is a four inch difference. Robin is 36 inches at the elbow. Martha is 32 inches. Martha declared that in her former life she was only measured with an oak measuring stick with brass ferrule, the hundred-dollar or so kind, not a free grain store weight tape. So I was unable to compare their weights, and we have a little training project for tomorrow.
Both these mares have a lot of Flyhawk and old Government breeding. Martha V is by the tall, athletic stallion, UVM Springfield. Robin is by the small, athletic stallion River Echo Hamilton. At pasture running together, they often look startlingly alike, making the same head motions and flagging their tails in a similar way. Yet standing still, they are very different in type and conformation. It would take a wiser person than me to run through their bloodlines and see just where Martha gets her extreme depth of body, and the characteristic of being rather heavy on the forehand, and where Robin gets her race-horse balance.

Robin bears a startling resemblance to a classic trotting horse broodmare of the 19th century, Green Mountain Maid. She doesn't descend from the Maid, but shares crosses to Henry Clay and Iron's Cadmus, horses in the classic mare's pedigree. Green Mountain Maid has a statue in her honor out in California, and $10,000 was offered for her when she was 20 years old. The offer was turned down. (Thanks to the excellent research of Brenda Tippin for this info, and the photo of Green Mountain Maid which you can see by following the link. Same lovely long legs, same butt, same belly, same white hind feet, and very similar head. They could easily be mistaken for the same horse. I wouldn't take $10,000 for Robin, either.  Read More 
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Martha V. Arrives

Woodgate Martha V. arrived on our farm a week ago. She's a 12 year old Morgan broodmare who was to have provided a foal with Robin's sire, the beautiful River Echo Hamilton. She appeared to have other ideas, however, and has come to me to start a new career.
She arrived the day our neighbor moved a flock of sheep to a nearby pasture. I believe sheep are a new species to Martha, as are chickens. She was riveted by the sheep, and quite interested in her new friends, Robin and Zeke, but we kept them apart for a few days.
The next few pictures detail their meeting. The drama ended with the girls grazing together in the field, and Zeke self-isolated in the barnyard, calling plaintively to Robin, or possibly to the grass. Only two horses have gone out at a time since, as this is all a bit too dramatic for my nerves. However, I'm amazed at how beautiful the two mares are together. This is why horse people appear greedy. Horse added to horse only increases the poetry of the scene. Read More 
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Riding and Writing

Riding season is about over for me. I've gone from obsessed, and starting every day with a ride, to having to push myself to squeeze one in. In part I'm transitioning by writing a story that features a horse almost identical to Robin--so I'm still obsessed, just not getting as much exercise!
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Who's Confused, Me or the Horse?

Trying to teach Robin to leg yield. To the right, no problem. To the left, not possible. I read my books (Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, everyone!), worked on my position, agonized. I also, in the barn, asked her to sidestep away from my hand on both sides. Click, treat, nicker. She was definitely less  Read More 
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Bramble and Robin, Maggie and Jessie: Horses Meet Girls

When I began BRAMBLE AND MAGGIE, now the first in a three-book series, I was just getting to know my new horse Robin. She most definitely had her "little ways." An unbroken three-year-old, Robin "didn't think poorly of herself," in the words of Cheryl Rivers, who bred her. I was heartbroken at losing Atherton,  Read More 
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Robin Rocks

Wow! It's November already. I've checked off a book about a Quarter Horse--CHICO'S CHALLENGE will come out with Feiwel and Friends in early 2012, I think--a new Bramble and Maggie book for Candlewick, and I've substantially finished a book about the Westminster Massacre that will come out with History Press next year.
And Robin? The  Read More 
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To Claim Your Prize

If you responded to Win A Prize (and I Know Molly did!), please send me your mailing address so I can send you your pin. The glitch here is that this blog--set up by the Authors Guild--doesn't show me your email address, so I can't respond to you directly. I'm not Ms. Technology, so  Read More 
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Lick, Don't Bite

Robin and I still have our persistent problem of her biting me, or threatening to. I can't decide if it's compulsive--oral Morgan who must be always doing something with her mouth--or if it's something I'm actually training her to do due to my response (but I feel like I have to respond to protect  Read More 
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Clicker Expo

Just back from Clicker Expo in Lexington, KY--a wonderful experience. Imagine being in a resort hotel with 400 animal-lovers and 130 well-behaved dogs of all breeds. Imagine classes all day on the latest scientific breakthroughs and refinements in modern animal training. I learned a lot about keeping cues and training loops clean--which coincidentally is what I  Read More 
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clicker challenge

Okay, here's a challenge for clicker trainers. I've been a bad blogger--look how long it's been. Do I call myself a bad blogger, or do I give myself a tiny treat for getting back into the saddle?
A few excuses; extensive barn renovations, followed by winter, Christmas, more winter...naah, no excuses. Robin is  Read More 
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