7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nathaniel Griffith on the Recruitment of Horses

Greetings, friends. Let me turn my mare loose here before we visit.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Nathaniel Griffith. I have worked hard since 1652 to build this farm, and I’m pleased you dropped by for some good fellowship.

What’s that ye say? That’s a goodly mare? Yes, it is. I bought her last week from Mr. Bradford. Ye know, I look far for good stock, and this mare shows some fine breeding.

Take a look at her hooves. That’s where I begin. If a horse doesn’t have a good foot it isn’t worth having. Good sized, round hooves that are healthy. No cracks. No ripples. Smooth, and my preference, black.

Now, this mare not only has good hooves, she’s healthy as well. Her breathing is clear, and she has a wide chest. A wide chest coupled with wide nostrils gives her plenty of room to take deep breaths. She’ll have endurance, and that I like, as do my buyers.

She’s a nice weight and her coat is healthy looking, nice and shiny with no sign of disease, as is often the case in this wet country.

Of course, I never buy a horse without first looking at its teeth. Mostly that tells me whether the seller be honest or not. If the man says the mare is eight, and I look at her teeth and they are long and the groove on the animal’s incisors is long, then I know she be older than eight. I can then reach in like this and grab the mare’s tongue, pull it to the side so I can see the teeth. The black mark here is called a dental star. If it shows in all the incisors then I am definitely certain this mare is older than eight.

Best I buy a mare of three or more for breeding. At least that be my preference. My uncle says a bred mare is settled, less likely to be high strung. Not sure I quite agree, but he’s been at this far longer than I. For riding, I’d like a bit more experience and would prefer a horse of five or more, especially if choosing one for my goodwife.

‘Tis been my experience that a boss mare is not a wise buy. See, each herd has a pecking order. The mare highest on the pecking order often is more aggressive to more timid people. Since I never know when my children will be around my animals, I don’t want to risk an aggressive one. It’s a tenet of mine, that is all.

You see that gelding over there? He’s a fine one. He’s my wife’s favorite mount and fine with the children as well.

Now, just last week a lad from the other side of the bay came with his father to purchase an animal. Had it in his head he’d by a stallion. Such a foolish thought.

See that sweet horse in the pen behind the barn, away from the other horses? That’s my personal mount, though I rarely take him out where other horses are, except to race. He’ll be used for breeding when he’s retired from racing. He’s as quiet and well-mannered as they come, but he’s not a child’s mount nor for any inexperienced rider, and certainly not for a woman. Stallions, by nature, are more high-strung and difficult to manage. God created them to breed and that’s their focus, no matter how well trained. Yes, I can take this stallion around mares and have him behave…as long as I’m keeping my eye on him, but he’s a wise one. He knows when he can take advantage of an inexperience person and about the time ye’re not looking, he’ll attempt to mount a mare. Nay, I fear these who think a stallion is a good mount need think twice what they are about. They’d best be knowing what they are doing.

I wouldn’t sell my stallion to that boy’s father, even if he was capable of handling him. He’s too valuable. I pray his good disposition and speed will be passed to his offspring. He has a name for himself now, and I’ll expect many a good return when I put him up for stud.

Ah, there is my good brother-in-law, Davis Owen. He’s here to watch me work on that young gelding tied to the fence. That animal is two and beginning his training. First, he’ll learn to pull a cart then when he’s three I’ll mount him. He’s a goodly type, not just in the way he is put together, but also in his mind. That’s what you want, a horse that is tractable. I weed from my herd any that show signs of willfulness.

Well now, I hope ye have come away with some good knowledge. And if ye may lend me ye’re ear, dear writer, I suggest ye keep the stallions in the stories to breeding and not to mounts. ‘Tis a rare man in these parts that would risk his breeding animal to ride, especially into battle. Geldings are by far more reliable and more generally used. ‘Tis my opinion, of course, but I think I have wisdom in it.

I wish you Godspeed.


  1. Excellent post, Lynn, and so much great research material! Very well written and enjoyable too--I can really visualize Nathaniel. He sounds like a very nice man.

    1. Thank you, Joan. He can be opinionated at times, but he does his best by people.

  2. "Well now, I hope ye have come away with some good knowledge."

    Indeed. Thank you Lynn (and Nathaniel). I keep well away from horses in practice these days, but I love them in theory. And since my characters have great need of them, I do plenty of theorizing. :)

  3. Fun post! So true about a horse taking advantage. My Trooper is the perfect gentleman... until my son's girlfriend gets on him. Then he decides to turn into driveways and meander through ditches or turn around to come home. He knows she's a novice and he takes advantage. Naughty boy! He doesn't do that with anyone else.

  4. Thank you, Lynn! That was lovely and very informative. And I know about willful horses. I rode one when I was 17 who decided to stop a moment. I was not strong-willed enough for him and he decided to lay on his side with me still on him. It was the hand of God that allowed me to get undone from the stirrup in time before he completely rolled over to scratch his back. Willful, indeed! I went home with a few bruises. :-( But my strong will made me angry enough to climb back on him and hold the reins taut the rest of the way. He did not try that again. :-)

    1. Elaine, that reminds me of my little Ginger. She was the best little gymkana horse and (in my opinion and I don't know who would deny it) cutting horse where I grew up. However, she took me on many a wild ride. One time she took off on a dead run, stumbled coming up out of the ditch, rolled right over top of me. I could see the saddle horn over me...so I'm quite certain God lifted her up so that I'd not be squashed. She headed home, leaving me spittin' nails. Dad's truck flew over the hill (you could see the sky under the tires) and when he stopped. He got out of the truck laughing. He saw that I was okay and knew Ginger had been up to her old tricks.

    2. Naughty little Ginger!! Praise God you were alright. And I understand that "spittin' nails" feeling! LOL Good thing it wasn't your mom in that rescue mobile because she probably would have been a wreck with worry! Thanks for all of your wonderful horse knowledge that you share so beautifully. :-)

  5. Oh, love these horse posts, Lynn! My hero has a gelding named Horatio in my upcoming book and you confirmed that it was a wise choice here. Bless you for that. I remember when researching the Shawnee for CML that Indian/native males rode stallions and the women in the tribe rode mares. I'd never given it much thought. Your posts are always chock full of great info for horse-deprived people like me. Thanks a million!


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