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, May 25, 2011

Even Unicorn Riders can get old!

Well dear readers, I just had my 60th birthday. I tried to forget about it but my wonderful family and friends in Oregon and Colorado didn't let me. One of them, the photographer for my Trail Guide books, Lynn Johnson, sent me this poem.

When I am an Old Horsewoman

When I am an old horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
(horse feed) and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.

-By Patty Barnhart
Originally published in The Arabian Horse World magazine in l992


In my first post on October 14, 2010, I told you about my very first horse, Tai, who I am sure is a unicorn by now. As I write this new post, sitting in my tan breeches with hay in my hair, I want to tell you about the three horses that fill my barn and my heart.

My littlest horse is Hardy, a 14 hand 1/2 Welch pony, 1/4 thoroughbred and 1/4 Arabian. He got the best of each breed. I got him when he was 2 and 1/2 and started training him. He is now 16. He is the smartest horse ever and an absolute blast to ride. He can jump the moon and is one of those "Point and Jump" horses that picks his position for the jumps perfectly. I sometimes feel guilty that I have him instead of some 12 year old that could be taking him to the national pony championships...but I love him so much!

This is a picture of my biggest horse, Jazz just shortly after I bought him as a four year old from American Sport Horses in Utah. He is much more developed now as he is 10 and doing great in his dressage training. Yes, he is the star of Behind The Mist! He is a Hanoverian and has been a fabulous horse. He was the 2009 Rocky Mountain Dressage Society 1st Level Adult Amature Champion and the 2010 Rocky Mountain Dressage Society 2nd Level Adult Amature Champion as well as the 2010 1st Level Freestyle Horse of the Year. He is so loving and tries so hard to please me. If he could, he would just curl up on my lap and sleep! I love him, too.

This is Kit on top of Kenosha Pass in Colorado. If you read Behind The Mist carefully, you will remember that Kit in the book was an Appaloosa mare. Obviously, this handsome bay thoroughbred is NOT an appaloosa mare! But that is part of writing a fantasy horse story, I can make up anything I want! Anyway, Kit is my oldest horse. He just turned 20. I have had him since he was 6 and trained him in Dressage up through level 2. He was the 2001 RMDS 1st level champion, the 2003 1st level freestyle champion and the 2005 2nd level freestyle reserve champion. He loves me deeply...something I found out when I sold him. It only lasted 5 months. He was so unhappy that he was misbehaving and lost so much weight that he looked like a rescue horse. I bought him back and promised him that I would never sell him again. I even had to move to a place where I could have three horses so we would have room for him. He is the cover horse on both of my Trail Guide books: Riding Colorado and Riding Colorado II.

Send me the story of your future unicorn! Write to me at:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Meaning Behind Horse monuments

As one approaches Denver International Airport you pass by a very mean looking statue of a rearing horse. I always call him "The Demon Horse" because he actually killed his creator. The horse depicted in this giant statue was my inspiration for the evil unicorn, Hasbadana in the first book of the Mist Trilogy: Behind The Mist. I started thinking about the legend I had heard about horse's hoof placement in statues and what that means when the statue is of a famous soldier. In Hasbadana's case two hooves are in the air and a word of warning is necessary here: DO NOT TRY TO RIDE HASBADANA!

Statue of Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg

Several years ago, our family visited Gettysburg. We were told by our tour guide that you could tell how a war-hero died or if he was injured by the number of hooves his horse has on or off the ground on his monument. If all four hooves were on the ground, the soldier died in peace. If one hoof was raised, he was wounded in battle but lived and if two hooves were raised, he died in battle or as a result of his wounds. I generalized this and assumed that applied to all equine monuments. I have since found that not to be a reliable code anywhere but in Gettysburg. The picture above is of Robert E. Lee. All four hooves are on the ground and Lee did not die in battle so that one fits.

However, Washington D.C. has the most equine statues of any city and some of them fit the code while others do not. Here are some examples:

This statue is of Major General George H. Thomas. You will notice that all hooves are on the ground and Thomas did die in peace. Fits the code.

Major General John A. Logan. One hoof is raised. He was wounded twice in battle but died in peace. Fits the code.

Major General Nathanial Green. One hoof raised. He died in peace unwounded. Does not fit the code.

Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. One hoof raised. Wounded in Battle. Fits the code.

Lt. General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson. All hooves on the ground. Jackson was wounded in battle by his own men and died of those wounds. Does not fit the code.

There are many more examples and you can find a much more complete list that has been compiled by Debora Johnson on her website:

Look for her article titled: Horse Statues in Washington D.C.

So, the conclusion is that, outside of Gettysburg, the position of the horse's legs means only that that was the way the artist wanted to depict him!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ANIMAL KINGDOM - Celestia or the Animal Kingdom in the Afterlife

Saturday, May 7th was the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby... arguably the most famous of all horse races. I have just completed revisions on Book Two of the Mist Trilogy: Mists of Darkness, and the opening scene is at Churchill Downs a couple of months before the Derby.

I missed the running of the derby as I was attending a performance of the touring group of Lipazanner Stallions (More about that in a later post.) In case you missed it, too, you can watch the race by clicking on this link:

Animal Kingdom is a great name for the winner if you are a Behind The Mist fan. You will understand the title of this post...Will Animal Kingdom earn the opportunity to become a unicorn and serve the animal kingdom in the afterlife? Time will tell but the signs are looking good!

Animal Kingdom is the son of an inexpensive Brazilian-bred Stallion by the name of Loroidesanimaux and a German-bred mare. He is owned by 20 partners including, as the New York Times writes: "A cranky former turf-writer." This horse was fortunate to have been trained by Englishman, Graham Motion who believes that a horse should be allowed to be a horse and has never been cited for violating medication rules. He raised and trained AK in a European style training farm in Maryland. There the horses are galloped and hacked through the woods and turned out in large pastures and paddocks. Mr. Motion does not believe in subjecting his horses to the race-track life. This is a man who deserves to become a unicorn rider someday!

The Kentucky Derby was AK's first race on dirt. Now it will be on to the Preakness for him. GOOD LUCK ANIMAL KINGDOM...I'll be rooting for you!

Side note: Rep. Edward Whitfield and Sen. Tom Udall introduced just last week, legislation that would regulate the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the horse racing industry. I am all for protecting animals but not a fan of more government regulation on private industry. So, I don't know how I feel about that. I am open to your opinions.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Happy Mother's day to all my readers who also happen to be mothers! What greater love is there than that of a mother for her child, whether horse or human? That was a rhetorical question because we ALL know there is none! A reader sent me these beautiful pictures of a new born Gypsy foal in Oregon. After giving birth, the mare laid down. Can't blame her for that. After trotting around a bit, the new baby crawled up on her lap for a nap. All of us who have been mothers kind of feel like we have earned unicorn status as well. Remember what we learn in Behind The Mist: Love is the source of our power!

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