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, September 28, 2011

SHERGAR - Kidnapped and killed now runs free in Celestia

I have a sad story to tell you. It is a true story but very sad none-the-less. In 1978 an exceptionally beautiful, bay thoroughbred colt was born in Ireland. His name was SHERGAR. His owner and breeder was a wealthy Muslim prince named Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. The colt grew up to be a kind and gentle stallion with a distinctive white blaze on his face. He won nearly all his races as a 2 and 3 year- old, including the famous Epson Derby. A side note: The Epson Derby is the original Derby. It began in Epsom, England in 1780. The British pronounce it "Dah-be." He won that race in 1981 by a record ten lengths and became a national hero in Ireland. He was named the 1981 European Horse of the Year.

Things looked great for Shergar at this point. He was retired to become a stud. When he arrived in Newbridge in October, 1981, her was greeted by the town band and school children waving green and red flags, the Aga Khan's stable colors, as he was paraded up Main Street.

The first year Shergar stood at stud at the Ballymany Stud Farm in Kildare County, Ireland, he produced thirty-five foals. Things were looking promising for the people who bought shares in him.

But things changed quickly. 1983 was in the middle of the decades-long struggle by the Irish Republican Army. The IRA was a paramilitary organization whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and establish a Socialist Republic by force or Political persuasion. On a foggy night, the 8th of February, 1983, a stolen horse trailer (called a "horse box" in Great Britian,) pulled into the unsecured farm. The groom who lived on the grounds with his large family sent his son to answer the knock on the door. He entered the room to see his son sprawled on the floor and masked gunmen in the room. They forced the groom, named James Fitzgerald, to take them to Shergar's stall and load the beautiful horse in the trailer. Shergar was never seen again. His body was never found and it wasn't until twenty-five years later that the sad truth about his brutal ending from machine gun fire was revealed. The ransom was never paid and a beautiful horse became the innocent victim of man's infighting.

Shergar now runs free across the fields of Celestia as a member of the Legion of the Unicorn.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Update from Unicorn Rider: Debbie McDonald

I met Debbie McDonald yesterday at the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society Championships at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. She is as nice a person as one would guess by the way she rides. (Some people may not understand that statement but I do!) The update about Brentina is that they are not planning on breeding and harvesting any more embryos from Brentina and just be happy with the two foals they have.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

RADIUM - A Unicorn from Down Under!

Radium is one of the most famous Campdraft stock horses in Australia. "What is a campdraft horse?" you say. Well, a campdraft horse in Australia is just like one of our American cutting horses. Have you ever been to a stock show and watched the cutting horses segregate one steer or calf from a herd? Cowboys do this to separate a calf that needs branding or medication or for some other reason.

While Radium died in 1947 at the age of 29, he still has his own Facebook page...That's a pretty with-it horse, I'd say! This is what it says on his facebook page:

Radium was an outstanding Australian bred campdrafter and very influential ancestor of Australian Stock Horses. He was a bay stallion bred by Donald Beaton of Levedale, Gloucester, New South Wales. This son of the outstanding campdrafter, Cecil (1899, by Red Gauntlet from Meretha II) from Black Bess by Hukatere (1882) was foaled on 11 November 1918. Beaton took great care in the breeding of his horses requiring horses with ability and stamina, for which he culled heavily. Radium’s sire, Cecil was so successful that in 1913, his owner, Arch Simpson was asked to leave his champion campdrafter at home in order that other competitors had a chance to win the campdrafting event at Geary’s Flat Bushman’s Carnival.

Radium was broken in by Archie Grant and Billy Tout when he was a two year old, after which he had several trips to the Cooplacurripa area. He began to show his exceptional ability as a stock horse as he developed and matured. Donald Beaton often drove long distances to compete at bushman’s carnivals with Radium tied behind the buggy. Radium would then compete in the campdraft, often winning and if he was going well, round off his success with an exhibition of campdrafting without a bridle.

In circa 1928, Radium was sold to Herb O’Neil, who, as a friend of Donald Beaton, had ridden the horse in competitions for Beaton when he had been unable to get away from his property. Herb O’Neill competed extensively with Radium, winning over a large area of the state. Just prior to the Second World War (WWII), Radium won a Championship Campdraft at Kempsey, New South Wales with the next ten placings going to Radium’s sons and daughters. Radium was also highly successful in led contests for the best type of Stock Horse. During WWII, at a Dungog Bushman’s Carnival over 20 horses were competing in the led stock horse class. In this event Radium received the first placing with the remaining four all being his sons.

I especially liked the part about Radium being "Towed" to shows tied to the back of the buggy. That reminds me of myself as I pull into Dressage shows and park my rusty stock trailer next to the huge, fancy multi-horse-with-living quarters-trailers! Go Radium! And now you have left your mark on Australia's stock horse breeds. Enjoy galloping around Celestia and cutting cattle in the Animal Kingdom! (If you don't know what I am writing about you need to read Behind the Mist!)

Here is an informative video about cutting horses that you will enjoy and learn from!

Send me the story of your Noble and Great horse!