Thursday, October 21, 2010

From The Hills Of Kentucky

By: Vera Patterson

An unknown author once wrote: HORSES – If God made anything more beautiful, He kept it for Himself.

When I read these words, I thought how perfectly this describes how I feel about the Mountain Horses. Whether the horse is registered Rocky Mountain, Mountain Pleasure, or Kentucky Mountain, they are the Mountain Horses.

For more than a century of traceable ancestry the Mountain Horses have been one of the best kept secrets of Kentucky. While the Mountain Horse registries/breeds were not recognized until 1986, breeders from the hills of Kentucky prized this horse and bred for their ability to adapt to the rugged, sometimes sparse terrain of the hills. They were bred for their smooth, even 4 beat gait and for their eagerness to please and be part of the family.

Seventy years ago a 5 year old boy was given a beautiful bay filly for his birthday. As the boy and the mare grew up together they became constant companions. She would carry him and his friend riding bare back to the river to fish and swim, ride the hills and meadows at a gallop and in later years carry him through the pastures to check the cattle. Some years she would be bred and produced exceptional foals, but most years she was just his friend. The boy in this story is my father. The mare is Dinah, a beloved Mountain Horse. I remember a few things about Dinah that was not told by my father. I remember her teaching my brother to ride and carrying him to his first blue at the county fair. I remember Dad saying she was more than 30 years old when she died, and then the real stories would begin.

Once, as a young boy, a man brought one of the first cars to the small town of Stanton, Kentucky. He bet Dad a “soda pop” at the general store that he could reach the store faster in his car than my dad could ride Dinah. My dad was so sure of his mare’s ability to run he took him up on the bet and off they ran… my dad and his friend riding double for 2 miles. Dinah stayed in front most of the way, but about ¼ mile from the store the car came up ahead. My dad was so worried about his mare because she was breathing so heavy he never thought about not winning the race. What a foolish endeavor of a boy learning one of life’s lessons. Then there were the stories of Dinah swimming him across the rain swollen river and him holding on to her tail, to safety. There were also stories of him spending the days playing in the forest with friends while Dinah waited and grazed patiently until the sun set and it was time to go home. However, every day was not fun and games, for they were too few and far between. Living on a farm in Eastern Kentucky, everyone and everything was expected to work or help produce food for the family. Dinah would pull a plow or wagon and many days were spent doing just that. Whatever the task, she gave her best effort willingly.

Today, Mountain Horses are prized for these same qualities. They are very appealing to the “Baby Boomer”, who is ready to enjoy their horses without all the work. They are ready to set relaxed in the saddle, cover ground, but not trot. They are ready to give their knees and back a rest and have found with the Mountain Horses, they can once again get back in the saddle and ride for hours. Their sure footed ability, their eagerness to please and learning ability makes them the all around ATV. Competitive trail riding, endurance, dressage, barrel racing and team penning are just a few of the venues riders are successfully competing in with their Mountain Horses. Their beauty is second to none and they show it in the show ring. Their main forte is riding the trails at a relaxed pace and being your companion.

While they are off of the endangered species list now, they are still closely monitored. The preservation of this breed is the main objective of the registries. Van Bert Farms, has been breeding Mountain Horses for many years and have been a training facility since 1965. A family owned and operated farm, 4 generations are currently working with the Mountain Horses. We boast of having the largest herd of Mountain Horses and pride ourselves in the quality we produce. Many World and International Champions were born and trained at Van Bert Farms. You will find the perfect mount here and we look forward to your visit and sharing the beauty of this wonderful breed with you. Give us a call or email us about your desire to own a Mountain Horse.

The boy in the picture is Conner (the great grandson of H.T.) and his favorite mare, Blue Jean. Another generation here at Van Bert Farms!

1 comment:

marifranie said...

Vera, I love today's blog about your Dad and his horse. It is wonderful and I love the history you put into your blog.

That Connor is a lucky boy to have Blue Jean. I heard that Eddie and Rebecca tried to get Larry to sell her to me but I am really happier to see Connor own her. What a special gift.

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