Tag Archive | Horse

Butten / The Butte

Please scroll down to the ~~~ line to read the post in English.

Vår gård ligger alldeles jämte en allmän grusväg med boningshuset på södra sidan och ladugården på norra sidan. Det finns många sidor till att bo så och en av dem är att det är svårt för förbipasserande att missa vad vi har för oss på gården.  Eller, jag misstänker att det ofta är så att vi får förbipasserande att undra vad det är vi har för oss här på gården. Ett av dessa tillfällen var när vägens diken gjordes vid och vi frågade om entreprenören inte kunde tippa de uppgrävda vägmassorna från dikeskanten i en hög i vår hage. Vägarbetarna blev bara glada över att slippa köra de fyra kilometerna till den egentliga tipplatsen men det var många undrande blickar som kom från de förbipasserande. Blickarna blev inte mindre undrande när högen sedan fick sitta där orörd, förutom att dess topp blev lite tillplattad. En del kände sig till och med manade att fråga vad högen var till för.

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Like the house and barn the butte is very close to and visible from the road.

För gårdens invånare var det dock aldrig någon fråga om vad högen var bra för. En hög med grus är bra till mycket. Man kan klättra upp på den, man kan kana, eller vintertid åka släde, ner för den. Utsikten från dess topp är härlig, det otäckta gruset verkar ha en något frånstötande effekt på insekter men uppe på toppen har ett par plantor gullusern tagit fäste och erbjuder ett uns unikt betande. Högen är också trevlig att titta på. Vi kallar den “the Butte” och ibland på svengelska “Butten”, även om vi vet att den är långt från de riktiga buttes, men den är en trevlig påminnelse av dem och det gör oss glada.

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Although the grass is greener, the butte is more interesting for the Sápmi goats.

“Butte” kommer från franskan och betyder ursprungligen liten kulle men den riktiga definitionen idag är isolerad kulle med branta sidor och en liten, tillplattad topp. Benämningen är ofta återkommande på USAs stora slätter där band av kullar bryter upp det annars platta landskapet. Där behöver en “butte” inte alltid ha en tillplattad topp, men i nokota®hästarnas hemområde är just den typen av kullar typiska landmärken och för oss en stor del av Norddakotas atmosfär. När vi kommer körandes på väg 13 från öst är det när landskapet börjar bli kuperat som vi känner att vi närmar oss vårt mål och riktigt hemma känner vi oss när vi får syn på de speciella höjderna som vi så ofta vilar ögonen på när vi besöker Kuntz Ranch.

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Getting close. Kuntz Ranch is situated just behind those blue buttes.

Inte långt från Kuntz Ranch finns en mycket intressant butte, som ensam reser sig över den omgivande prärien. Det är Shell Butte och om namnet skvallrar om är den full av snäckskal, men fossila sådana från många miljoner år sedan då Norddakota fortfarande var en del av det enorma Nordamerikanska inlandshavet. Där finns mycket att studera för en geologiskt intresserad och från dess topp känns verkligen den vidöppna prärien långt in i själen. Det finns många fler buttes i Norddakota och kanske den mest spektakulära men definitivt den mest resliga är White Butte i sydvästra hörnet av staten. Med sina 1069 meter över havet är den statens högsta naturliga punkt men det är inte så mycket dess storlek som får den att stå ut som dess färg. White Buttes sedimentärbergarter har en hög kalkhalt vilket ger den en ljusgrå färg och en frodig försommardag ser den närmast surrealistisk ut från håll.

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I never did go all the way to White Butte that early summer day and I still wonder if what I captured on the photo was real or just a mirage.

Inte riktigt så surrealistiska men mycket praktfulla är kullarna kring Linton, där Nokota® Horse Conservancy har sitt säte. Under många somrar nu har sluttningarna betats av nokota®hästar och det var på en av dem som en dag ett föl fångade extra mycket av Seths uppmärksamhet. Fölet lekte för sig själv i ett snöbärsbuskage och tycktes särskilt smälta in då fölets färg var nästan densamma som buskarnas bark. Han verkade så lekfull men också vänlig och med vetskap om att han var son till en av Seths favorithingstar Lakota Dancer köpte Seth omsider fölet. Den unga hingsten fick sitt namn efter buskarna, på engelska Buckbrush, och växte upp till en ståtlig avelshingst som nu har avkommor i flera länder och drar just nu blickarna till sig hos sina nya ägare i Frankrike. “Bucky” själv hann inte uppleva vår lilla Butte innan han flyttade söderut, men den är ett populärt tillhåll för hans fyra svenska avkommor.

Läs gärna mer on Buckbrush på hans egen sida.

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There is just something about the butte that makes it fun to hang out by. And half way up it stands Vargfura, one of Bucky’s Swedish offspring.

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Our farm sits right on a small gravel county road, with the house on the south side and the main barn on the north side. Living like this has many sides to it and one of them is that it’s hard for people that drive by to miss what we’re up to on the farm. Well, I suspect that a lot of times it’s rather that we make people wonder what we’re up to. One of those times was when the road department was redoing the ditches and we asked them if they could just put the waste road side masses, a mix of soil and gravel, in a pile in our pasture. The road workers were happy that they didn’t have to drive the four or so kilometers to the official dump site but many were the ponderous looks from people driving by. And the looks didn’t get fewer when the pile was left there as it was, except for having it’s top flattened into a little plateau. Some even had to ask what it was for.

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Watching Sápmi goat Blinka on the butte convinces me that it has a purpose.

For the farm’s inhabitants there was never any question what it was for, however. A pile of gravely soil is great for many things. It can be climbed up onto, it can be slid, or in winter time sled, down off of, it offers a nice view from the top, the open gravel seems to offer some protection from biting insects and it even offers some unique grazing with a couple plants of yellow alfa-alfa surprisingly having taken hold on the plateau. And it’s nice to look at. We call it “the butte”, well knowing that it is far from the real deal buttes, but it is a fun reminder of them and it makes us happy.

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The Helsinge sheep definitely seem to have found a use for the butte, too.

“Butte” comes from French and means “small hill”, though officially a butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small flattened top. The word is often recurring on the Midwestern plains where bands of grassy hills break up the otherwise flat landscape. There, a butte does not always have to have a flattened top, but in the nokota® horses’ homeland those kinds of hills are typical landmarks and for us a big part of the North Dakota spirit. When driving in from the east on HWY 13 it is when we see the first bands of hills that we know we’re close to our goal and then comes that lovely sight of the buttes that we so often rest our eyes on when visiting at Kuntz Ranch.

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A young Bucky offspring on Kuntz Ranch enjoys the ranch’s hillsides with his dam.

Not far from Kuntz Ranch there is one very interesting, isolated butte, the Shell Butte. As it’s name suggests, it is full of shells, but fossil shells from millions of years ago when North Dakota was still a part of the great Western Interior Seaway and from atop the view is breath taking. There are many more marvelous buttes throughout the state and maybe also the most spectacular but definitely the greatest is the White Butte in south western North Dakota. With it’s 1069 meters above sea level it is the highest natural point of the state but it is not so much the size as it’s color that makes it stand out. The mud- and claystone of White Butte has a very high lime content making it a light grey color and on a lush early summer day the butte looks almost surreal from a distance.

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From the top of Shell Butte the prairie feels more wide open than ever.

Not so surreal but quite lovely are the hills around Linton where the Nokota® Horse Conservancy has it’s office. In some of them nokota® herds have been grazing for many summers and it was on the slope of one of these hills that one foal stood out extra to Seth and caught his interest. Within a patch of buckbrush a colt of a color nearly the same as the brush’s bark was playing. He seemed so playful and good natured and knowing he was a son of Lakota Dancer, Seth eventually bought the colt. The colt was named Buckbrush and grew up to become quite the eye catching stallion who now has offspring in several countries and is currently showing off in France at his new owners. “Bucky” himself never got to see our own little butte before he moved south but his four Swedish offspring all enjoy hanging out by it.

Read more about Buckbrush on his own page.

What better way of showing off the North Dakota spirit than a Nokota in the foreground of some buttes. Buckbrush and Seth did an amazing job helping Christopher Wilson get some good shots. Photo Shelly Hauge.

What better way of showing off the North Dakota spirit than snowy buttes with a Nokota® in the foreground. Buckbrush and Seth did an amazing job helping photographer Christopher Wilson get some good shots. Photo Shelly Hauge.

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En hopptalang, som många andra Nokotas® / A jumping talent, like many other Nokotas®

Please scroll down to the ~~~~ line to read the post in English.

För ungefär ett år sedan nämnde vår fantastiska vän Helen att hon tyckte det hade varit roligt att ta en av våra hästar till kvalitetstävlan. Vi själva har inte mycket erfarenhet av sådant men tyckte iden lät intressant. Vi kom fram till att Rosamunda skulle vara en bra häst för uppdraget och året som varit har hon under perioder varit uppstallad på Örnsköldsviksortens Ryttarklubb där Rosamunda och Helen har haft bättre träningsmöjligheter.

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Rosamunda trying the fences at our neighbor’s. Photo by Ronja Hillman.

För ett par veckor sedan var det så till slut dags. Dagen började med mätning och till vår förvåning visade det sig att Rosamunda faktiskt är en ponny. Vi har trott att hon skulle ligga just över ponnymåttet men istället för vårt gissade 153 cm är hon i dagsläget 148 cm. Hon är förstås fortfarande samma Rosamunda men att hon är ponny ger lite andra möjligheter inom hennes nya jobb på ridskolan. Sedan var det dags för själva bedömningarna av Rosa. Hos tre olika domare fick hon visa upp sin exteriör och rörelser, löshoppningstalang samt rörelser under ryttare. Hennes slutresultat följer nedan och med det blev hon utnämnd till bästa hopptalang i sin klass.

Rosamundaresultat

Futurity results. Type: 8. Head, neck, chest: 8. Legs: 7. Walk: 7. Trott: 7. Loose jumping: 7. Disposition, loose jumping: 7. Walk under rider: 7. Trott under rider: 7. Canter under rider: 7. Disposition under rider: 7. Conformation: 7,40. Movements: 7,33. Total jumping: 7,17. Total movements: 7,17.

Rosamundas klass bestod visserligen enbart av henne själv och en till ponny, men det är kul att se att vår vildhäst vars enda “avelsmål” varit att överleva i det fria står sig rätt bra jämfört med ponnyer som avlats för tävlingsprestation i flera generationer. Överlag var kvalitetsbedömningen det en mycket trevlig upplevelse med domare som hade en mycket positiv syn på deltagarna och både framhävde hästarnas goda sidor och talade konstruktivt kring de sämre sidorna. Förhoppningsvis får vi se fler Nokotas® visa sina goda talanger på treårstest och kvalitetsbedömning för talanger och då framförallt hopptalanger finns det många inom rasen. Kanske vi kommer få se Rosamundas dotter efter Buckbrush på framtida bedömningar. Dottern, Purple Rain är född 2012 och är till salu. Läs mer om henne under salusidan här.

If nothing else then Purple Rain is at least definitely a talent of being somebody's best friend.

If nothing else then Rosamunda’s daughter Purple Rain is at least surely a talent at being a person’s best friend.

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About a year ago our fantastic friend Helen mentioned that she thought it would be fun to enter one of our horses in a “quality show”, a sort of futurity where young horses’ talent as riding horses is judged. Ourselves we don’t have much experience with such but thought it sounded interesting. We decided that Rosamunda would be a good horse for the job and during the past year she has at times been boarded at the Örnsköldsviks Riding Club where Rosamunda and Helen have had better training options.

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Rosamunda third from the left on the North Dakota prairie. Growing up in a large herd with lots of space to move helps also a talent stay sound for many years.

A couple weeks ago it was finally time for the futurity. The day started with measuring of whither height and to our surprise it showed that Rosamunda actually is a pony. We have thought that she would be somewhere right above pony height but instead of our guessed 153 cm she is 148 cm. She is of course still same Rosamunda but being a pony gives her some other opportunities within her new job at the riding school. After that it was time for the actual judging part. At three different judges Rosamunda got to show her conformation and movements, jumping without rider and movements under rider. Her results are shown below the second paragraph in the Swedish part of the post and with those results she earned the best jumping talent in her class.

Being scrutinized by the judge who also thought Rosamunda was a very kind horse.

Being scrutinized by the judge who also thought Rosamunda was a very kind horse.

Rosamunda’s class was however only her and one other pony, but is still fun to see that our wild horse whose only “breeding goal” has been to survive on the free range measures up pretty well to ponies that have been bred for the arenas for generations. Overall the futurity was a very nice experience with judges that had a very positive look on the participants and both enhanced the horses’ good sides and spoke kindly about the lesser sides. Hopefully we will get to see more Nokota® horses show their talents at futurities for talents, especially jumping talents there are many within the breed. Perhaps we will see more of Rosamunda through her daughter by Buckbrush in the future. The daughter, Purple Rain is born 2012 and is for sale. Read more about her on the for sale page.

Scout

Please scroll down to read the post in English…

Under ett par års tid förde mitt friluftsintresse mig en gång i veckan till den lokala scoutavdelningen. Liksom så många andra barn och ungdomar världen över fick jag på scouterna lära mig allehanda nyttiga överlevnadsknep och, framför allt, att arbeta och utvecklas i lag. Scoutrörelsen bildades i 1906 av den brittiske löjtnanten Robert Baden-Powell som ett sätt att aktivera landets ungdomar. Ordet scout hade Baden-Powell med sig från det militära där scouten, eller på svenska, spejaren, var soldaten som skickades bortom de egna gränserna för att aktivt samla information om fienden, rekognosera. Scouter har förmodligen funnits i alla tider och spelade en stor roll även på den nordamerikanska kontinenten där de amerikanska indianernas överlägsenhet sågs redan av de första européerna på kontinenten. “Indianspejare” blev vanliga i européernas tjänst med en topp i och med den amerikanska arméns värvningskampanj 1866. Den siste US Army Indian Scouten gick i pension 1947.

US Army soldiers and Scouts observe tracks before the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882.

US Army soldiers and Scouts observe tracks before the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882.

Ett år kolliderade dock mina scoutträffar med mina sköthästdagar och scouterna fick ge vika för stallet. Med tiden insåg jag dock att jag ändå skulle vara i kontakt med scouter. För även i hästarnas värld finns det individer som håller extra utkik och som vågar ta sig från flocken för att söka efter nya resurser såsom bete. I vår flock är Frideborg en typisk scout. Har hästarna fått mat på något nytt ställe är det oftast hon som uppmärksammat det och leder dit resten. Häromveckan blev de alla flyttade till sommarhagen över en dag då vi lät avverka lite skog i vinterhagen och istället för att stå och hänga vid grinden och kring höhögarna, så såg vi plötsligt att några av dem hade pulsat ett par hundra meter uppför det snötäckta berget och en av dem var naturligtvis Frideborg. Hon är också en av de första att komma fram och hälsa i hagen och vill alltid följa med på upptäcktsfärd. När hon är ute och går är hon alltid mycket uppmärksam på omgivningen och spår längs vägen, de senare vill hon helst stanna och lukta på.

An inquisitive Frideborg as a foal on the North Dakota prairie.

An inquisitive Frideborg as a foal on the prairie.

Läs mer om Frideborg på hennes egen sida som nu har blivit uppdaterad.

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For a couple years in my youth my interest for the outdoors brought me to the local Scouts. Like so many other kids and youth around the world I got to learn some good survival tricks and most importantly, to work and grow in a team. The Scouting movement was founded back in 1906 by the British lieutenant-general Robert Baden-Powell as a way of activating the British youth. The word “Scout” Baden-Powell had brought from the military where the scout was the soldier who was sent beyond the own boundaries to actively collect information about the enemy, reconnaissance. Scouts have probably excisted in all times and played a large role also in North America where the American Indians’ superiority was noticed already by the first Europeans on the continent. Hired “Indian Scouts” became common within European groups in America and peaked with the American Army’s recruitment tour in 1866. The last US Army Scout retired in 1947.

Nokota Horse Conservancy stallion Hail Chief is on the guard and has noticed me from way afar.

NHC stallion Hail Chief scouts the terrain and has noticed me from way afar.

One year however, my scouting collided with my barn days and the scouts had to give for the horses. But with time I realized that I would be in contact with scouts anyway. For also in the world of horses there are individuals who keep an extra eye on the surroundings and who dare to leave the group to search for new resources, such as grazing lands. In our group, Frideborg is the typical scout. Have the horses been fed in a new spot, she is the one who has seen it and lead the others there. The other week we moved the horses to the summer pasture for a day since we had people come in and cut some forest down in the winter pasture and instead of standing around by the gate and the hay piles, we suddenly saw that some of them had made it through the deep snow a couple hundred meters up the mountain. One of them was naturally Frideborg. She is also one of the first to come up and say hello in the pasture and always ready to go out and explore and while out she is always observant on the surroundings and will sniff any odd track along the road.

Read more about Frideborg on her own page, which has now been updated.

Stallion Medicine Fox has noticed a new group of horses in the area and is headed out to gather some information.

Stallion Medicine Fox has noticed a new group of horses in the area and is headed out to gather some information.

Jethro’s Nokota® Ruminations 1:2 Happy Thanksgiving, Timothy, and Black Friday Bypass

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Timothy
Consideration in the last issue of essential amino acids (and past articles can always be easily found on our blog: https://djuptonokotas.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/jethros-nokota-ruminations-vol-11/) led to some questions about what is a good hay based diet, and that is such a profound & good question that i think needs to be broken down by grass species.  So let’s start with one of the most well known, sought after, and at least in some places premium priced, timothy.
Timothy has a long and proud history as hay, and if you have worked with a scythe and/or the traditional human muscle intensive hay drying methods you can understand in large part why.  It grows upright and straight in relatively fine clusters that do not form tight & high scythe blade destorying clumps like tuvtåtel, instead timothy plants cut rather cleanly and effortlessly with a scythe (or machinery), dry comparatively easily and well, and are more cooperative than many plants to collect with a rake and/or baler.  While continuing with its positive aspects, timothy is conducive to farming and crop rotations and establishes well with good planting and fertilizing techniques (including organic fertilizer which was of course the rule up until just a few generations ago) while also being effectively destroyed when desired via plowing because it has shallow roots that do not regenerate new crowns.  It is tolerant of  cold weather and native here in northern Sweden.  Plus timothy is one of the safer cool season grasses for horses at a high risk of founder, at least according to most sources and theories.  http://www.thehorse.com/articles/16767/hay-for-the-laminitic-horse,   http://www.johnthevet.co.uk/fructans.php,   http://www.halleysfeeds.co.uk/articles/TimWatsonBVMS_May2012.html
But even considering all of those benefits, i feel that i need to balance out the reputation of “king timothy”, the cornerstone of most haying programs here, and also write about its shortcomings, which certainly do not render it necessarily inferior but which should be always considered because timothy is definitely not the best option for every situation or every horse.  
Timothy grows and matures quickly, even in the far north, but the flip-side of this strength is that it also becomes overmature very quickly.  It has been recorded losing as much as 0.7% digestability per day after prime harvesting time http://www.feedipedia.org/node/16886, and thus in my experience it is not hard to find timothy hay that is rather deficient in useable protein and other nutrients.  It is true that horses evolved amid and are adapted to a “low octane” diet in comparison to cows, especially modern milk cows which are fed obscenely rich feeds and grasses developed to contain much more sugars and carbohydrates that typically found in nature, so this lower feed value of timothy is not always a disadvantage to a horse, as horses need much roughage/fiber for their systems to function properly, yet timothy’s feed value does need to be understood when trying to feed young, growing, high output, or elderly individuals or considering the “bang for your buck” of your next hay purchase. Mature timothy can be great if your plan is to let your gelding have free choice of a big round bale until it is gone because it will slow him down a bit, and a horse can eat much faster than it needs to, especially if bored, so even with overmature timothy an easy keeper with little to do could still grow fatter. Conversely, if you are feeding youngsters, as we are here, and rationing their feed over 3 to 5 feedings a day to limit wastage and spread out the consumption, and pay for the hay by the bale regardless of what it contains then you can quickly understand why we would prefer not to have overmature timothy hay; it is more work, cost, and waste for the same level of nourishment.
Furthermore, even though lush immature timothy plants can top 20% protein (and at this growth stage may also have a high amount of potentially worrisome for laminitis water soluble non-structural carbohydrates), timothy is a bit deficient in lysine relative to its total protein content.  The National Research Council has through much research decided that 4.3% of a horse’s dietary crude protein should be lysine http://books.google.se/books?id=EBoXrYCkFUQC&lpg=PA198&ots=_2TMb34d28&dq=NRC%20horse%20lysine%20percent&hl=sv&pg=PA198#v=onepage&q=NRC%20horse%20lysine%20percent&f=false​.  So since timothy has only 3% of its crude protein as lysine it is better balanced by combining with clover (5%) or other lycine rich plants (typically legumes) like vetch that are themselves richer than necessary in lysine.  Or you could always supplement lysine directly… or even just feed an excess of timothy in terms of energy and/or total protein to simply reach the lysine requirement if that is the cheapest option and there is no problem with weight gain.
A relatively easy online (and downloadable) program to calculate your horse’s specific needs, and even compare them to several feeds and calculated intake, is provided by the National Research Council at:  http://nrc88.nas.edu/nrh/   On the top blue horizontal tool bar select “Animal Specification”, then enter the weight and expected mature weight along with other details and you can quickly see that our harness mare, Grå Törnskata, for example should have 26 grams of lysine a day.  Saves a lot of time on the calculator, and you can do much more with this program if you wish 🙂  And below is another table that can be helpful when considering lysine, too:
Feed type Equation to estimate lysine from crude protein if actual lysine content is unknown:  http://www.ker.com/library/advances/218.pdf
Alfalfa hay Crude protein x .042
Clover hay Crude protein x .050
Timothy hay Crude protein x .030 (actually ranges from 2.9 – 4.1% http://www.feedipedia.org/node/16888
Bermuda grass hay Crude protein x .035
Bluegrass pasture Crude protein x .027
Oat hay Crude protein x .031
Corn silage Crude protein x .051
Returning to considerations of timothy, it is also relatively sensitive to overgrazing because it stores its reserves in the lower stems, well within reach of hungry mouths.  And please remember when reading about any species and following the links that the recommendations will vary greatly with your locale, especially dates for seeding, cutting, etc, seeding rates, and even nutritive properties.  For example, here in northern Sweden our days during the growing season are very, very long; on midsummer it never truly gets dark, just dusky.  Furthermore, the nights are characteristically cool, so photosynthesis can occur over very long portions of each “day” and the plant needs to waste little of this via respiration at “night”, thus plants can potentially concentrate much more sugar.  Our carrots, berries, potatoes, etc truly are sweeter than in most other places and likewise horses at high lattitudes are at a greater risk of founder/laminitis, particularly if allowed to graze modern grasses developed for milk cows without end when already fat and excercising little.  So if you hear food connosiurs claiming that the best berries come from close to the poles, they actually do have some facts behind them if sweet is what you seek.
So long story short, things are always more complicated than they seem and so there is a lot to consider, and typically hay mixtures are best, but timothy sure can be a great hay and a great choice for the majority of most equines’ diets, especially with a small amount of legume mixed in or fed at the same time.
Black Friday Bypass
Personally, one of the things i am most thankful for is an awesome home (and that means the entire farm) full of opportunities (aka Nokota horses and range for them), so i really am not keen to leave that for the hustle of town, especially not to partake in consumeristic chaos in the quest for holiday gifts.  So what better alternative than to order online gifts like the freshly printed 2014 Nokota calendar http://www.nokota.org/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=97, artwork, stationary, sponsorships including the opportunity to name a young Nokota, clothing including sweatpants you can wear in comfort as you shop at home, etc 😉  The only thing better than avoiding the crowds and fuel pumps is the satisfaction of knowing that you are also helping to preserve deserving American heritage, as the Nokota Horse Conservancy is a non-profit organization with the proceeds helping to sustain its core herd of the most rare bloodlines of fully foundation Nokota horses.
Disclaimer:  There is always a strong chance that I don’t know what I am talking about, and these views are entirely my own and not in any way necessarily reflective of those of the Nokota® Horse Conservancy or any other individual.  Read widely, seek multiple opinions, and think freely 😀  I know that this will be read by many who are more wise, educated, and experienced in a multitude of ways than myself and look forward to their responses, even if they contradict me, so please do not hesitate!  Our blog is a great place to discuss further, and if you have a question it very well can be helpful to share, so please feel free to comment and share!
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Ålder och erfarenhet/Age and experience

Grå Törnskata (Skata) är åtta år. När jag var åtta år roterade min värld kring pastellfärgade My Little Pony, skolans läseböcker och att klättra träd. Och att längta till julafton förstås. Skata må vara vår lilla ponny med sina styvt 145 cm i mankhöjd, men förutom en sprudlande lekfullhet är det inte mycket likheter mellan den åttaåriga hästen och det åttaåriga barnet. Skata har vid sin till synes blygsamma ålder redan hunnit uppleva fem pinande vintrar på North Dakotas prärie, där blåsten aldrig tycks sluta piska snön mot frostnupna mular. Hon har med bravur klarat en omställning från orörd vildhäst till ett liv som tamhäst via totalt nya erfarenheter som en nio timmars flygresa och hon är nu den mest pålitliga i vår svenska lilla Nokotahjord. Hon har fött två perfekta fölungar och uppfostrat dem till ett par kloka och trygga unghästar. Hon har också lärt sig att bära människor på sin rygg och dra tunga lass med sann arbetsglädje. Framförallt har Skata övervunnit långt fler av sina medfödda, instinktiva rädslor än man kunde tro möjligt för ett flyktdjur, fött och uppvuxet i vilt tillstånd. Ibland när jag pratar med bekanta om Skatas bedrifter kallar jag henne kort och gott ”hästen”. Men det jag menar är Hästen. Med stort H. Även i en grupp av så många fantastiska individer som den vi har i vår hage.

Skatas första bal. Skata's first bale.

Skatas första bal. Skata’s first bale.

När jag idag, med nästintill fyra gånger högre ålder än Skatas, ser på henne är det med högaktning inför den erfarna, visa, trygga utstrålning hon glöder av och jag känner att jag själv alltid kommer ligga långt efter hennes mognad oavsett hur många fler år jag får uppleva. Varför är det så? Jag har ju trots allt också upplevt många vintrar, såväl kroppsligt som mentalt, och rest har jag gjort till mer än min beskärda del. Jag har också två barn och haft arbeten där jag ibland fått slita hårt. Men ändå känner jag mig så liten intill Skata. Kanske är det hennes absoluta närvaro som är skillnaden. För henne liksom för alla hästar är det här och nu som räknas och hon lever varje sekund av sitt liv. Till skillnad från mig själv, som allt för ofta genom livet glömt bort nuet i mitt bekymmer över det som varit och inte varit.

Skata som femåring på North Dakotas prärie, där vinden blåser sommar som vinter. Five-year-old Skata on the North Dakota prairie where the wind blows summer and winter.

Skata som femåring på North Dakotas prärie, där vinden blåser sommar som vinter.
Five-year-old Skata on the North Dakota prairie where the wind blows summer and winter.

Läs gärna mer om Grå Törnskata på hennes egen sida som nu blivit uppdaterad!

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Grå Törnskata (Grey Shrike), or Skata as we usually call her, is eight years old. When I was eight years old, my world circled around My Little Pony, schools first books and tree climbing, and longing for Christmas, of course. Skata may be our little pony with her mere 14.2 hands high, but except for her exuberant playfulness, that’s about the only similarity between her and the eight-year-old child. Skata has at her seemingly shy age already experienced five winters on the North Dakota prairie where the wind never seems to stop whipping the snow up into the frost bit muzzles of shaggy ponies. She has successfully gone from an untouched wild horse to a life as a domestic horse, some of the travel being by totally unknown experiences such as a nine hour flight and is now the most reliable of our Swedish little Nokota herd. She has foaled two perfect colts and has raised them to become two wise and secure young horses. She has also learned to carry people on her back and to pull heavy loads, always with true joy. Most importantly, Skata has conquered far more of the fears that she was born with than one could imagine possible for a flight animal, born and raised in the wild. Sometimes when talking with friends about her accomplishments I just call her “the horse”. But what I actually mean is The Horse. Even in a herd of so many marvelous individuals as the ones we have in our pasture.

Vintertid är tuff tid för hästar på prärien, med ont om naturligt vindskydd. Winter time is tough time for ponies on the prairie where natural wind protection is sparse.

Vintertid är tuff tid för hästar på prärien, med ont om naturligt vindskydd.
Winter time is tough time for ponies on the prairie where natural wind protection is sparse.

When I look at Skata today, with my nearly four times as great age, it is with awe of the experienced, wise, comforting aura that she glows of and I get a feeling that I, myself, will always be far behind her maturity no matter how many more years I will get to experience. Why is that so? After all, I have also seen many winters, physically and mentally, and “of travel I’ve had my share, Man”(from the song “I’ve been everywhere” by G. Mack, sung by many, including Johnny Cash). I also have two children and have had jobs where I sometimes had to work hard. But still I feel so little next to Skata. Perhaps the difference is in her absolute consciousness. As for all horses, all that matters for Skata is here and now and she lives every second of her life. Where I, myself, way too often through life have forgotten about now in my concern about what has and has not yet been.

Please do read more about Skata on her own page that has now been updated!

"Admire the tall, ride the small". But Skata we both admire and ride, and she'll get a person anywhere.

“Admire the tall, ride the small”
But Skata we both admire and ride, and she’ll get a person anywhere.