This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Many parents have had help raising their children from a horse or pony. These wonderful animals surely deserve to become members of the Legion of the Unicorn. Here is what one mother wrote:

We made the decision early on to raise our daughters riding horses. We live in rural Oregon and there are not many after school activities or close neighbors to keep young girls busy! We began with two wonderful horses, Takara Bluson, a Raffle bred Arab and Lane’s BlackJack, a section A Welsh Pony. Our daughters Jenny (oldest) and Megan (middle) had lessons with their trainer 3 days a week. We quickly entered the world of showing horses. Our youngest daughter, Marissa was in lead-line classes with her Daddy. The girls loved their horses and the horse show world.
Beau (the Arab) was a wonderful horse, he loved his girls and saved Jenny more than once in the show ring. Once her stirrup broke in a saddle-seat class, she fell in the arena with a pounding herd of horses thundering by. Beau immediately positioned himself over Jenny, protecting her from the oncoming horses. Everyone in arena held their breath, while the horses cleared them. After they passed, Beau nuzzled Jenny. As she stood and fixed her stirrup the audience broke into applause. Amazed by the beautiful little gray Arab who so lovingly cared for his rider.

Lane’s Blackjack, Jack, was a great little true black Welsh. He drove, went western and hunt. He and Megan were quite the team. Together they represented the Welsh breed in the Oregon Horseman’s Battle of the Breeds. Megan was seven years old in a field on adults on full-sized horses. It was such fun to watch my little girl and her beloved pony place in class after class against the ‘big guys’! Jack represented his breed well that weekend!

My girls soon out grew Beau and Jack and they were passed down to Marissa who campaigned both with great joy at finally being ‘in the big girl classes’. Jenny and Megan both got National Show Horses Pintos and we did the Pinto circuit for many years bringing Marissa in with a National Show Horse of her own. Megan and Jenny were both nationally ranked riders in their age group. They loved their beautiful Pintos but their hearts were always with Beau and Jack. We moved Beau and Jack home to our barn were they lived as pampered pets. With my daughters and later on grandchildren riding them bareback and lovingly caring for them over the years.

Last week we made the horrendous decision, that at 35 and 34 years of age their quality of life had changed drastically this winter. We euthanized Beau and Jack on Friday. Jim and I each held on to one of them, loving them and thanking them for being a part of our family over the last thirty years. Doing what you know is right does not make it any easier. We buried Beau and Jack in the pasture they had spent the last 15 years in. As I look out to my empty pasture each morning, I think of all the lessons these wonderful horses taught my daughters. I concentrate on how lucky we were to have been a part of their lives. I miss them so much! We have a new horse in our lives. My daughter Megan bought her daughter, Bella a little palomino Paint for Christmas. The horse is boarded near by, we have high hopes that she will give to Bella what Beau and Jack gave to their girls.

Wow, this was rather cathartic to write down today! It was helpful to get their passing down on paper. Margie McNutt

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011


When I was growing up, I distinctly remember getting our first black and white television. It was one of these big boxey sets that sat in the living room. The first show I ever watched was Lassie. Those were the days when television studios felt like they had a responsibility to promote good values and lift the standards of our society! My favorite shows were any that involved horses and I loved watching the Lone Ranger. Here is what I found out about the Lone Ranger's horse: SILVER.

"From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger Rides again!

These were the words recited by radio announcer Fred Foy who died in December, 2010.

The Lone Ranger started as a radio show in 1933. The voice of the narrator was Bruce Beemer. The first live appearance of the Lone Ranger and Silver was in July of 1933 at Belle Isle in Detroit. Beemer played the ranger and he used a rented horse named "Hero." 70,000 fans came to see them.

There were actually 2 white stallions that officially played the role of Silver plus one stunt horse. Silver #1 was personally piced by the actor, Clayton Moore from the Hugh Hooker Ranch in the San Fernando Valley in 1949 just before the filming began. He was part Tennessee Walker and stood over 17 hands. His name was "White Cloud" and was very gentle and well trained. His only trick was the high rear that he is known for. Clayton's stunt man and stand-in purchased White Cloud when he started Studio Stables. Moore never owned any of the Silvers.

Silver #2 was purchased by George W. Trendle in 1949. Trendle owned the Lone Ranger show at the time. It is believed that he was originally named "Tarzan's White Banner" and was foaled on a farm near Danville, Iowa in 1945. Trendle renamed him "Hi-Yo Silver." Trendle also owned another white stallion that was used for public appearances in the 1940's when The Lone Ranger was a radio show. Silver #2 was shipped to California in 1952 for T.V. filming and replaced Silver #1 in most of the shots. He was trained by Glenn Randall who also trained Roy Roger's Trigger (see the post on Trigger.)

The second Silver was the opposite of the first. He was very high strung and skittish. He was afraid of the sounds made by the cameras. He was not as large as the first but still weighed in at 1250 pounds! #2 was the only horse that Clayton Moore toured with. Moore did a lot of the riding scenes himself and was the only rider to do the rearing.

A third white stallion was used for some of the stunts and chased, especially those where the Lone Ranger chased down and outlaw and jumps from his horse to take down the bad guy. These wer done by Bill Ward riding his own horse "Traveler." This was the horse that later became USC's trojan horse.

A funny note: Jay Silerheels, who played Tonto, later said that the Silvers were quite slow and he always had to rein in Scout as they galloped off into the sunset so he wouldn't leave the masked man in the dust!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A reader sent this story to me. I do not know who the original author of the article is or where it came from but I wanted all of you to see this story. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me. Here is a horse and rider who deserve unicornhood!

I saw this photo today and it took a while for my brain to register what I was seeing. Take a look.

Look closely...

Yup. No arms. Her name is Bettina Eistel and her horse is Fabuleax 5.

What is even more compelling than the fact that she can brush her horse with her feet, is that she competes, very well, at the Paralympics in dressage.

Bettina didn't just overcome her disability, she walloped it!


Thalidomide. She was born in 1961 in Germany, with no arms due to the drug, Thalidomide.
What is Thalidomide? Thalidomide was a drug they gave pregnant women before it was known that it caused birth defects. Hence, Bettina was born without any arms.



Bettina doesn't let her disability stop her. After all, this way of being is all she has ever known.
As an aside, another disabled Olympian was explaining the difference between being born with a disability versus being born "whole" and acquiring the disability. This concept is an interesting topic. You probably can come to some of your own conclusions here.

Bridling... look at him drop his head.

Anyway, as a small child, Bettina learned how to use her feet and toes as her hands and fingers. As a youngster, she started in horseback riding lessons. (Thank goodness her parents supported her and let go of their fears around this.) She wears riding boots with cut-outs in the toes so she can have 'hands' (imagine how cold her toes must get and how often they clip a branch or a fence board - ouch!). She can saddle, bridle, hose down, wrap, blanket and do just about anything else that is needed for her horse. And, she rides by steering with her legs and holding the reins in her mouth. IN HER MOUTH. Try that!

Oh, and besides all those horse riding feats, she can text, write and put on mascara with her toes!

They say Bettina is a master at hose water fights!

"After highschool in 1979, Bettina studied the History of Art, Archaeology and Ethnology in Hamburg, followed by an eight-year study of psychology. During her psychology studies, she participated in a project with Hamburg's home for children. In 1989 she completed her studies with a diploma and has since worked as a graduate psychologist in a Hamburg counseling center for children and family therapy."


I really couldn't find much information on her coaching (Her coach Franz-Martin Stankus) or how she learned to ride. But, I did find out that she:

"Eistel was formerly Vice-Europe and Vice World Champion (two silver and bronze at the European Championships in Portugal in 2002 and three silver at the World Championships in Belgium in 2003) and won two silver and one bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens , she won also three times the German championship. As the most recent successes are the bronze medal in the required tasks of the individual competition and the silver medal in the team standings at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong."

Not bad even for a girl WITH arms.

With her dressage medal


You have to really think about the kind of horse who would let this kind of a rider be his partner. Really, what temperament is needed to perform at high level dressage as well as take care of a disabled rider? Wow. I wish I knew if they looked high and low for him or if they simply trained a good horse to understand this rider? (I need to read her book.) I mean, did they find a horse and say to him that this is the way we are going to do it now? Or, does the Fabuleax 5 'know'? I often hear that certain horses are much more gracious with disabled riders than with regular riders. I know that my Gwen is much nicer to children than to me. I wonder how that happens? Is it the horse or the quality/feel/spirit of the disabled rider/child that effects the horse? Dunno.

Taking a treat from Mom

Bettina says she trained her horse via voice commands, head movement and leg aids. Funny, I bet hardly any of us would think it was even possible to ride a horse without arms.

From where I sit, I would like to be in the presence of the wonderful Fabuleax 5. He is a saint in my book. Fabuleax lets Bettina ride him in the only way she can, with the reins in her teeth and the other set of reins between her toes. And, he does his job. Simple. Gosh. Impressive.

If you notice in the photos, he lowers his head to be bridled and to be brushed. Atta boy!

Beautiful boy


Bettina also landed a gig as a Talk Show Host. With a weekly show on German TV station ZDF, Bettina is something of a media star. They say her popularity is because of her engaging and optimistic personalityĆ  but one cannot ignore her amazing ability to do everything, literally everything, with her feet..

Bettina as talk show host


I wanted to bring this story to you because I think sometimes we give up too easily. Or maybe it is just me. Maybe I think I give up too easily or don't push through my/my horse's issues or don't get over myself/my fears or don't put as much effort/time into training my horses as I could. Reading about Bettina was a good shot in the arm for me. I sure don't feel like making any excuses or complaining.

I cannot even imagine folding the laundry with my feet, let alone living 24 hours without my hands. Wow. Very inspirational.

What a great team!

Now, dear readers, get out there and work hard at whatever you set your heart on and you will succeed!
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

JUSTIN MORGAN Had and Was a horse!

The story of Justin Morgan is a quintessential American story. A horse that began as an unremarkable colt, become the father of an entire breed of horses that are known, today, for their quality and dependibility.

The horse we call "Justin Morgan" was born in 1789 and was origianlly named "Figure." In 1791, he left his birthplace in Springfield, MA  with his new owner, the soft-spoken music teacher, Justin Morgan. The stallion eventually became known by the same name. Figure's breeding is unknown but he is thought to be Dutch Thoroughbred and Arabian. But, whatever the breeding, his quality was plain to see. He had straight legs, a well-muscled body, an intelligent head with large eyes and short ears. He had lovely movement that sent his thick, silky mane and tail flowing out behind him.

The school teacher had purchased him for an investment, intending to sell  him for a profit as he travel north to Vermont. However, the stallion's small size resulted in no buyers and the teacher found himself in posession of a horse when he reached Vermont.

Over the next 30 years, the little bay stallion worked long hours in the fields and on the roads of Vermont. He gained fame as he out-performed the big colonial workhorses and long-legged race horses. He was even selected to carry President James Monroe in a parade. In a match race, he out ran the winningest (is that a word?) race horse central Vermont had ever known.

Figure proved to be one of the best breeding horses ever. Regardless of the quality of the mare, Justin Morgan's off-spring inherited his genes and abilities. Today, every registered Morgan horse traces his lineage back to Justin Morgan through his best-known sons: Bullrush, Sherman and Woodburg.

The popularity of the Morgan horse spread across the US. New Englanders headed to the California Gold fields on Morgans. The Vermont Cavalry fought in the Civil War mounted on  Morgans. Union General Sheridan rode his Morgan "Rienzi" while Stonewall Jackson rode his Morgan "Little Sorrel" for the confederacey.

The book Justin Morgan Had a Horse,by Marguerite Henry and the 1972 Disney movie about him were not terribly accurate but they were fun stories anyway.

In 1961, Morgans became the official state animal of Vermont.

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