Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A collision of equine cultures! - An AQHA tale.

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation.

This post is an Equine tale (not to be confused with an Equine tail).

For people that love animals, but have only experienced relationships with them as a caretaker / owner and not from the position of a person that raises them, this 'tale' may fall short.  If so, I apologize in advance.

We raise cattle and horses.  Because we raise them, we also sell them.  The selling part of the business sometimes is very difficult for me because I have built a relationship with them, especially the horses.  None the less, if we didn't raise them, that animal would have never existed in the first place to have a relationship with... so I do truly believe in the saying "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all".  And in the case of the animals we raise, this happens over and over and over again.  Yet, these animals sustain us and it brings pure joy to me to see others enjoying and benefiting from animals that we have raised.

So this is a tale of lost love (for me) and found love for others (including the equine tail in the tale), which brings a tear to my eye and joy to my heart.

The first mare that Pete and I found when we started putting our little brood mare band together was Jacks Bo Jacke.  We call her Kelly.  Kelly still to this day is out in our pasture raising babies and she is very good at what she does.  To date, she has raised five colts which are in the possession of others now and four prospects that we still have on the ranch.  Through the five produce of hers that we have sold, she has more than paid her way (and earned a rare ticket to our horse cemetery on the ranch when the time comes) with cumulative gross sales five times what we paid for her as a halter broke three year old.  These colts were all prospects (started under saddle, but not finished in a discipline) when sold and they have gone on to do various things for other people and other ranches.

That being said, there is a diva in the bunch and her story is my horse tale.

Mimi Stanley and AQHA filly, Sparkin Hot Jacke (Sparkin Hot x Jacks Bo Jacke) doing a stretchy circle.  I don't know what a stretchy circle is, but what I can see, Mimi has beautiful balance, wonderful hands and excellent control as Sparkin Hot Jacke is holding collection and balance without direct pressure from Mimi's hands while still driving from behind (creating the strong top line) and guided through a circle with leg pressure alone.  Truly beautiful.

From time to time, we have more horses around than we have miles to ride.  My sister said to me one day while we were out riding two summers ago, "My friend Bobbi is looking for a horse to ride for a while.  She's not in the market to buy, but is looking for a horse that has good legs and needs miles.  Do we have anybody to send her?"  Knowing Bobbi and trusting her to take excellent care of any animal under her supervision, I thought for a while and said, "How about Tara?".  Kim and the rest of the ranch crew were shocked by this as they knew how much I loved that filly.  I explained that if she stayed here, I wouldn't get the miles on my geldings that they badly needed.  Tara was going to make her way to the brood mare band that next spring anyway so she could go spend some time with Bobbi until then and when there was riding to do I wouldn't be tempted to grab her and leave the geldings standing in her dust.

I called Bobbi and we talked.  We figured out an arrangement and the next trip to Bismarck we brought Tara along.  Bobbi looked her over and went to riding her.  Bobbi would give us updates from time to time and eventually there was an understanding that the discipline that Bobbi had been riding Tara in, dressage, Tara was pretty good at.

Dressage is a discipline almost exclusively commanded by the warm blood breeds of the horse world.


That being said, many of the 'western' disciplines use the foundation of dressage for proper positioning of western riding and cattle maneuvers.  None the less, to see an American Quarter Horses at a competitive dressage event is rare, especially a platinum blond (a palomino) one.

Bobbi decided after having Tara for about 6 months that she wanted to make the commitment and purchase her.  She did so.  Her barn name is now PAQ.  Bobbi and PAQ attended their first AQHA sanctioned dressage event this past June and Bobbi provided me with a full report after they got home.  PAQ was a rock star and a novelty at the event for several reasons.  In a field of bay and liver chestnut warm bloods, she is a palomino American Quarter Horse (AQHA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Quarter_Horse

In addition, she does not have a breed brand:  http://www.dressageamerica.com/brands_new.htm ,
but she does have a ranch brand, our ranch brand (North Dakota - box cross) which she sports proudly on her right hip.  Bobbi happily explained to the 'dessage folks' questioning that brand what a ranch brand was.  Cross cultural education!

Aside from being beautiful, this photo represents somethings so much bigger than what meets the eye.  This filly is bred to chase cows.  She looks so very happy working here and in every photo I have seen of her in the dressage pen.  Essentially she has been 'discovered' - something life on the ranch would have never offered her.  She was afforded an opportunity outside her normal comfort zone and she seized it.  An American (Quarter Horse) Success Story.
PAQ's mom, Jacks Bo Jacke (Jacks Notation x Zans Bo Jacke) at age 6 in 2003.
Three of PAQ's brothers - L to R - 'Bill' is in Nebraska competitively roping calves, 'Howard' is in the Killdeer area ranching and youth rodeoing with the owner's grand kids, 'Will' who's current status is unknown.

It has been an absolute treat to see other's have success and find joy in our horses.  I am just so thankful that the day Kim and I had the discussion about Bobbi wanting to find a horse to ride for awhile, I didn't pull the selfish card.  PAQ appears to love the dressage pen and Bobbi is so very good to her, always has her best interest in mind and is helping her meet her potential.

This horse tale has been such a pleasure to follow and I wish Bobbi, Mimi and PAQ great success next show season!

A breather in between show seasons?
As beautiful as ever sporting the natural look on a 'stay at home' day.

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