Sunday, February 28, 2010

It Is Not "All About the Color"

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about Pintabian horses entitled, "Its All About the Color".  While the article was very well written and quite a good synopsis in regard to the development of the breed, its title missed the mark.... by a hundred miles.

If, in fact, the Pintabian were "all about the color"... the breed itself would be completely unnecessary and totally redundant.  One could buy a tobiano Paint horse, Gypsy Vanner, Shetland Pony, Spotted Draft, any type of Pinto (all wonderful breeds in their own right), or select from any other breed which carries the tobiano spotting gene.  The type, conformation, disposition and pedigree would matter not... only the color.

Fortunately, the opposite is true.

Here at Frostfire Farm, we require all our horses to be, first and foremost, of sound mind and temperament.  Nothing less than a docile, friendly, intelligent and willing horse will do.  Our children handle these horses; their safety is our first priority.  We also appreciate the fact that our farrier and vet enjoy coming out here to our farm, because our horses are easy to work with and pleasant to be around.  Our trainer tells us that if everyone bred horses like ours, he would be out of a job; he raves about their intelligence and train-ability. Pintabian horses were, and still are, selectively bred for intelligence and quiet disposition. 

We select our breeding stock based on correct conformation, classic Arabian "type", and athletic ability in addition to the aforementioned disposition.  The good news for us is that classic Arabian type, correct conformation and athletic ability all tend to go hand-in-hand.  When you start with good stock, you are richly rewarded in the generations that follow. Quality begets quality.

Knowing the pedigrees of your horses, and the assets and liabilities in those pedigrees, is vital.  One can make far more knowledgeable breeding decisions when you know the genetics with which you are dealing.  I, for one, will not purchase a horse "eligible for registration"... only animals from reputable breeders, which are already registered with the Pintabian Horse Registry (or Arabian Horse Association, in the case of our Arabians).  Does the deal seem too good to be true?  You know the rest.  If a breeder does not have the integrity or faith enough in their own program to sign on the dotted line, attesting to the fact the horse they are registering is, in fact, the product of Sire X and Dam Y... is this really someone with whom you wish to do business?

The importance of  purchasing foundation stock from reputable breeders, keeping accurate and up-to-date records, and registering your animals with the established registry or association for your particular breed cannot be overstated.  If either a breeder or a registry is willing to "look the other way" in regard to parentage, transfers of ownership, parentage verification or any other aspect of record-keeping in order to make a sale or collect a fee, it destroys their credibility and brings into question the integrity of all involved, horse included.   A breeder must have absolute faith that the horse they purchase is truly a product of the pedigree it is said to represent.  In the absence of that faith, one is dealing with the unknown... and breeding that horse is a crapshoot.  That said, representing a horse as something it is not, especially a breeding animal whose value depends heavily on the genetics it will pass along to the next generation, is not only irresponsible... it is also illegal.

You will notice that I leave "color" for last.  It truly is at the bottom of the priority list in terms of my selection of breeding stock.  No matter how flashy a coat a horse may wear... if it cannot stand up next to a top-quality solid-colored horse of the same breed and compete on equal terms... if it is handicapped by poor conformation or a sour temperament... it has little value as a representative of the breed. 

That said, when you have a horse with a wonderful disposition, classic Arabian  type, good conformation, athleticism... and then add the glitz in the form of a wild, show-stopping coat pattern... then you truly have a "statement horse", and one built on a quality foundation.  Quality and color are not mutually exclusive, it is possible to have both.  One just needs to make thoughtful and responsible breeding and buying decisions in order to get there.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Still Believe It's a Miracle

Tonight, my daughter (pictured here with her Daddy) earned her red belt in Tae Kwon Do. 

Forgive me if you've heard about it already... by phone, by fax, by e-mail or Facebook or Twitter or carrier pigeon (I've probably spread the word by every one of those means, by now)... but my gratitude over the fact she is breathing and walking, not to mention breaking boards with her bare feet, is overwhelming.

Four months ago tonight, she lay in the ICU of a Children's Hospital, desperate for breath, her lungs filled with fluid, her temperature frighteningly high, body riddled with infection, tubes and needles... fighting for her life.

She lay in that hospital for three weeks, first battling the H1N1 flu and pneumonia (and other assorted bugs, as well)... then the failure of her kidneys as a result of all the antibiotics it required to fight the infection.

We prayed.  Fervently. For complete healing.

Three months ago, the doctors said it would take six to twelve months for her lungs to look anywhere near normal on a chest x-ray.

Two months ago, her pediatrician stared in amazement at a perfectly clear picture of those same lungs. They were totally clear.  The doctor said, "You are perfectly healthy!! I don't need to see you again for a whole year!" That was the very same day her nephrologist joyfully reported that her kidneys had resumed normal function.

Six weeks ago, she resumed her Tae Kwon Do training, something she has worked at since she was seven.  Its a sport she shares with her dad... their special time together.

And tonight... tonight, she earned her red belt.  It was, however, about way more than progressing to the next level in a sport.

It was about coming full circle.  About fighting back from the brink of death, about the faith and prayer and miracles and love that made it happen. It was about her own strength of spirit, and a testament to the power of the prayers of the hundreds of people who prayed for her healing.

We did not pray just that she would survive... we asked, and believed, for complete healing.

Our prayers were answered.

Looking back... I still believe it was a miracle.

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Monday, February 22, 2010


With the description in Han Ying's written wor...One day last week, while hustling my five-year-old daughter out of the SUV and into a store while running yet another errand, I grew frustrated with her dallying.
Her response to my irritation?  "Sorry, Mom... I keep getting distracted by the snowflakes!"

Her sweet little words stopped me in my tracks. 

Having been in "go-go-go" mode for weeks with assorted projects and events, my mind was not on snowflakes.  It was focused on "Important Grown-up Issues"... which, as I've come to realize in my years as a mother, are really not so important.  At least not when you have a five-year-old who sees the world through different eyes.

I looked around, and sure enough, the snowflakes were distracting.  Though the sun was shining, snowflakes still floated from Heaven... each one delicate, exquisite, unique. 

The thing about snowflakes, however, is that it is so easy to miss their one-of-a-kind beauty.  It takes time to stop, look at them, and appreciate their individuality and intricacy...

just as with people.

I am so thankful to have a daughter who gets distracted by snowflakes.

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