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, January 30, 2013

SHETLAND PONIES-The littlest unicorns!

How many of you grew up dreaming of owning a pony? Probably all of you. My image of the ideal childhood was riding around the back yard on a cute little pony just like Carolyn Kennedy was doing on the white house lawn on her pony "Macaroni." I kept trying to talk my dad into letting me keep a pony in the back yard. After all, they don't take up very much room, and then we wouldn't have to mow the lawn! He never bought into my plan any more than he went with our idea to hand dig a swimming pool! I also remember that, as a kid, I could fall off and actually bounce right back up. That doesn't happen anymore. First of all, my  horses are much bigger and second, my body doesn't work like that anymore. Sighhhhhhhhh.

Today, I want to write about Shetland Ponies. The ones I knew were both tiny and feisty. So, that is my impression of the breed. I want to give you a little background.

Shetland ponies of today are descendants of the ponies that roamed the stormy islands of Shetland off the coast of Scotland.  They were built tough to withstand the harsh elements. The islands are cold and wet. So, the ponies have short legs, thick necks, long manes and heavy coats, all designed to conserve body heat. Grazing was tough most of the year so they would actually roam the beaches in search of seaweed and fish heads to eat. They were also forced to drink salt water. 

Originally, these ponies were seldom ridden. They were our tiniest work horses. Pound for pound, they can pull more weight than a large draft. They can pull twice their own weight which even Shires or Clydesdales (see my blog from Jan. 9, 2013) can not do. The ponies were used to carry packs across rough terrain, pull heavy carts on farms and work in Britain's mines. These smart little ponies actually saved many a miner's life.  

Today these ponies are used as pets. They are measured in inches, not "hands" as horses and larger ponies are. They are usually up to 42 inches high at the withers (where the shoulders come together at the base of the neck.) There are now two types of Shetlands, the American Shetland and the British Shetland. Both retain their sturdy look but many have been developed into a more elegant animal. They are used for riding and driving. 

If you love horses, read the first two books of the Mist Trilogy: Behind the Mist and Mists of Darkness (just released on Jan. 15, 2013.) You can order an AUTOGRAPHED copy here AND save a dollar off the retail price!

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Monday, January 7, 2013


I am not a beer drinker but if I were, I would have to drink Budweiser because I love their corporate symbol...the teams of Clydesdales. They also have the coolest commercials! I love the one above about the "Little Donkey that could!" That is just one of many awesome commercials, some that even make you cry. Behind the Mist readers will remember that Salamite and Portlas, the evil unicorn Hasbadana's guards, were Clydesdales. So, I decided to learn more about the Clydesdales and share it with you. The first team of Budweiser Clydesdales were a gift to celebrate the end of prohibition in 1933. August Anheuser Busch, Sr. was given the gift by his son. Today, the St. Louis MO headquarters of the brewing company are also the headquarters of the teams of horses. The company owns the largest herd of Clydesdales in the world.
 The breeding farm called "Grants Farm" near St. Louis, Missouri, houses approximately 35 mares, stallions and foals, with an average of 15 foals produced each year. This is ranked as one of the top family attractions in the country so add that to your list of places to see! Anheuser-Busch owns a total of about 250 Clydesdales, kept at various locations throughout the United States. There was a second breeding farm located near Romoland, California, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, but I believe that has been moved. There are six "Hitches" (the name for teams)of Clydsdales in different locations around the country. Each Hitch is made up of ten horses. Eight pull the wagon and two are on standby. Only five of these teams travel around the country. One always stays in Missouri. There are strict qualifications to be a horse on one of the hitches (the commerical notwithstanding.) The horse must be a gelding that is at least four years old. It must stand at least 18 hands (a hand is 4 inches) at the withers and weigh 2,000 to 2,300 pounds. He must be bay (brown body with a black mane and tail,) have a white blaze down its face and have four white socks (coloring below the knee and  hock) with white feathering (long white hair that covers the hoof.)

These fabulously trained horses are used in parades, including an annual appearance in the Rose Parade, and other promotional events. They are transported around the country in huge semi trucks with all the luxuries available, including video cameras so that the drivers can keep an eye on them. 

Read about the Clydesdale unicorns Portlas and Salamite in Behind the Mist and the just released Mists of Darkness. Click here: to get a special discount price of just $9.95!

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